DOES RONDA ROUSEY REALLY DESERVE A TITLE SHOT RETURN?
When Dana White recently announced Ronda Rousey will finally return, to fight the bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes on Dec 30th in Las Vegas at UFC 207. I was both surprised but not so surprised.
Naturally there were fans on both sides of the fence. Some saying she is or was the most dominant champion in the UFC woman’s division’s short history and deserves this. Others calling bias, saying its makes a mockery of the woman’s division and is disrespectful to other female bantamweights in the UFC.
I must say, I am slightly with the later…Just about. And this is due to the fact that Rousey has been out for almost a year, but is still ranked No2 in the division. Despite all the fights in the division that has happened in this time.
To add to that, a fighter who I have gradually grown to admire in her short UFC career. The Venezuelan Vixen Julianna Pena is undefeated, was campaigning for a shot against Rousey when Ronda was looking unbeatable and has been patiently waiting for her time.
Not that for one second am I trying to suggest I think Pena is better than Rousey, or even the other way around. But I do feel Pena deserved a title shot. Even if she has only had three fights since winning the ultimate fighter against Jessica Rokoczy back in November 2013.
To come back after 17 months out with a serious knee injury to rack up three wins in the space of 14 months against Milana Dudieva, Jessica Eye & Cat Zingano was impressive. I have heard the talk of she has a boring style and is not marketable. Which I disagree with.
Many may also argue that she has not done enough to earn a title shot yet and maybe one more high-profile win is needed to earn this, but who else is there?
Pena is currently ranked 5th. Above her is Holly Holm. Rousey’s conqueror. Who then lost the title to Tate and then lost again to Valentina Shevchenko. We all know Tate then lost the title in devastating fashion to Nunes.
The Russian Shevchenko who is ranked above Pena and Holm. Lost to Nunes via a unanimous points decision, the fight before beating Holm. So is only on a one fight winning streak. Further down the rankings at 6 you have Cat Zingano. Then at 7 you have Sara McMann.
So really and truly, Pena is the only fighter up there that has momentum and has not had her day. If you go further down in the rankings. 8 is Raquel Pennington who could be in the mix after a three fight winning streak. But lost two from four previous to that, included a points lost to Holm.
At 9 is Liz Carmouche, who has lost 3 of her last 5 fights, to Rousey, Alexis Davis & Misha Tate. At 10 is Bethe Correia, who recently got a split decision win over Jessica Eye, after losing two in a row to Rousey and a wafer thin split decision defeat to Pennington.
So, if you’ve kept up with all that. Again, who else is there? Pennington is fighting Tate at UFC 205. There are rumours that could be an eliminatior for the title. So where does a Pena fight come into the equation? Is she becoming an avoided fighter?
Many will argue that the above is justification for Rousey to get an instant return title shot. They will use my line of “who else is there?” then explain before the Holm defeat, Rousey had dominated the division. Reeling off 6 victories since being promoted from Strikeforce champion to the inaugural UFC woman’s bantamweight champion.
This is a valid point, but you can counter that by saying when Rousey first defended her UFC belt back in February 2013. Almost four years ago now.
The division was still finding its feet and had not developed the talent pool it has now. You only have to look at three title changes, in three fights, within 8 months to see how the talent in this woman’s division has changed, developed and improved.
So Rousey is coming back to a division far more advanced, stacked and talented than it was when she left almost a year ago. While others were slaving away, jockeying for position, how can Dana really justify Ronda coming back to a title shot like nothing significant has happened since Ronda’s departure?
I heard Dana White argue, or moan that whatever he did with Ronda’s Return, the public would moan. Which could be a true statement. He went on to say if he gave her a tune up fight, the public will moan and say he was giving her an easy way back in.
But I am sure nobody was calling for or expecting a “tune up” fight for Rousey…..But would it kill him to put her in a title eliminator?
And I’m not even gonna get into the comparisons of when Jon Jones returned. When Aldo lost after 10 years. Cain Velasquez and even TJ Dillashaw not getting instant title shot returns….
I believe with Pennington fighting Tate. Pena should have this title shot against Nunes and Rousey should have returned in a possible title eliminator against Shevchenko.
But the reality is we all know why Rousey has this shot. White is hoping things go back to how is was a year ago, and Ronda again becomes his major marketing cash cow. Though McGregor has taken that mantel, I know Conor’s unpredictable and often volatile ways doesn’t always sit right with Dana.
But Ronda was a dream. Until it became a nightmare on that fateful night in Melbourne, Australia.
Dana would love to have that Ronda back to ride that gravy train for as long as it takes him this time.
So in truth, whether Ronda justifies a title shot or not, is neither here nor there. What she justifies is that overwhelming lure of cash money. That short-term gain, but very high rewards for Dana White and the UFC. Just like in most situations or circumstances in the entertainment business. Money talks…And bullshit often walks parallel with it.