The exploding popularity of women’s mixed martial arts (WMMA) may have simultaneously reached an all-time high and a pivotal crossroads last Saturday night (July 5, 2014) when women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey ran through Alexis Davis in the co-main event of UFC 175 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On one hand, we witnessed a dominant fighter who added another opponent to her list of victims, owning finishes in all of her fights and perhaps the mantle of the UFC’s biggest current star.
On the other hand, however, we saw it become painfully obvious that the UFC women’s bantamweight division was miles behind the talent and skills of Rousey, painting an uncertain future for the weight class as a whole.
The UFC went a long way towards remedying that ailment in the past 24 hours, signing undefeated Legacy FC champion Holly Holm to a contract last night. News also broke that Invicta FC featherweight champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos would make her promotional debut at 135 pounds at Invicta FC 10 on Fight Pass this December.
But while many figured Holm would be thrust into a title confrontation as soon as “Rowdy” returns from her broken hand and knee surgery, UFC President Dana White told The Los Angeles Times that simply isn’t the case. “The Preacher’s Daughter” will likely receive a tune-up fight before squaring off with Rousey, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.
A decorated former boxing champion, Holm obviously needs a ton of mat training before she can withstand Rousey effortlessly tossing her to the mat and locking on a fight-ending armbar. One bout in the Octagon would give her some precious time to shore up those skills with her top-level trainers at Jackson’s MMA.
However, a non-title fight and several months of grappling training certainly isn’t going to cause Holm to catch up to Rousey, who has been submitting opponents her whole life. Holm also has her own injuries to deal with, as she broke her arm defeating Juliana Werner in her last fight at Legacy FC 30 in April.
Holm is still awaiting her doctor's clearance to resume training fully, but she appeared on tonight's edition of Inside MMA to target an October-November UFC debut.
That’s not as big of a deal as it may seem, because many of the top women in UFC already have bouts scheduled. No. 1-ranked Cat Zingano will square off with No. 8 Amanda Nunes at UFC 178 on September 27, while No. 2 Miesha Tate will face newcomer Rin Nakai at UFC Fight Night 52 on September 20, 2014, from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
It’s unlikely that Holm would be matched up with No. 6 Jessica Eye or No. 7 Liz Carmouche, because despite the fact that both fighters are coming off of a loss, they are experienced, dangerous opponents who could potentially stop Holm’s hype train before it reaches full speed.
Perhaps “The Preacher’s Daughter” will sit back and see how the upcoming bouts play out before signing on to face one of the winners. She’s in a great position right now, but that could all disappear with one simple loss.
Whom do you think Holm should meet in her Octagon debut?