TOPIC: Does Ronda Rousey deserve an immediate title shot if she agrees to return at UFC 207? If so, why? If not, why not and who should get shot before her and who should she fight first to earn a title shot?
The following is the first of three batches of MMATorch writers responding to this topic…
D.R WEBSTER, MMATorch contributor
I don’t believe that Ronda Rousey deserves an immediate title shot if she returns at UFC 207, for a few reasons. She has been gone or will have been gone for over a year when UFC 207 rolls around and her loss was a bad one. She could use a tune up fight to get back into the swing of things in my opinion or to see if she still has the mental capacity for fighting after it was damaged so much due to her loss. Throwing her back into the main event, big title fight right away could be a mistake because another loss could put an end to her career for good.
Also, the division has changed so much since she last fought and moved on. The fighter who beat her, Holly Holm, is no longer champion which makes a rematch for the belt seem past due. Her rival Miesha Tate also lost the belt, taking out that option to renew the rivalry in a big title showdown. Now we have new blood in Amanda Nunes as champion and a hungry Julianna Pena looking for a title shot. That fight should happen and Rousey should perhaps fight a top contender with the winner getting the next title shot.
However, with a big return, there is more value in Rousey getting an immediate title shot, so for business reasons it will happen.
MICHAEL HISCOE, MMATorch contributor
Ronda Rousey is exceptionally deserving of an immediate title shot upon her return. She was the first UFC female champion and is the sole reason women are fighting in UFC at all today. She dominated the field for two-and-a-half years – more if count her Strikeforce reign – and reached a level of fame that no cage fighter has ever seen. As big of a draw as Conor McGregor is, he’s not nearly as famous to the general public as Rousey is.
She brings in a unique audience when she fights that only tunes in when she is on the card. Whether she’s ready to fight and beat Amanda Nunes, I’m not convinced, but I’m certain that she’s deserving of the fight if that’s what she and the UFC wants. If she were to fight someone other than Nunes, the obvious fight for her is a rematch with Holly Holm. Holm got a lot of rub from knocking out Rousey last year and the revenge story is an easy one to tell, especially with the vengeful spirit Rousey has shown she has in her on The Ultimate Fighter and in her book. That would leave an open spot for a championship match with Amanda Nunes. I would give that spot to Juliana Pena, who has looked good since winning TUF and would make a great foil for Rousey in a future title fight if the stars aligned.
JONATHAN CERVANTES, MMATorch contributor
No question about it. Ronda Rousey brought women’s MMA into the mainstream in a way no other female fighter had before and is the reason the women divisions now exist in the premiere fighting organization in the world. If that is not enough to convince someone, then consider the totality of her record and her incredible run of dominance against some of the toughest competitors in the world. Look at the instability in the division without her and the lack of a true successor who people could look forward to watching with the same passion and dedication they had for Rousey.
JASON AMADI, MMATorch contributor
This particularly situation is one that makes it hard to reconcile who deserves what and what actually makes sense. Rousey was a long reigning champion and one of the biggest stars the sport has ever seen. Based on her body of work, she absolutely deserves a shot at the title upon her return.
The only negative to a potential matchup between Rousey and Amanda Nunes is that they have no history together. Holly Holm and Miesha Tate had history and drew big money with Rousey, so if you slotted the “Rowdy” one in either scenario, it would make sense competitively and promotionally.
To the mainstream, Nunes is a warm body who is going test Rousey’s mettle and desire to still compete in MMA. At the end of the day, it makes sense and again Ronda Rousey has already done more than enough to warrant another title fight if she wants it. There is still probably more money in doing Holm vs. Rousey II right now, but here we are.
(MMATorch features the Roundtable feature providing a variety of opinions and perspectives on hot topics in the world MMA.)