Word late yesterday was that UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo was pulling out of his main event fight with Chad Mendes due to an injury sustained in training. This puts the UFC in a bit of a bucket of syrup as it already has four events scheduled for August with two of them PPV events, UFC 176 and UFC 177.
Now, the speculation machine is running at full tilt with who can be booked on such short notice. During the media scrum on Thursday for UFC 175, Ronda Rousey spoke to a glut of reporters when Fox Sports reporter Marc Raimondi dropped this little nugget:
It wouldn’t be the first time Rousey has come to the UFC’s rescue. However this assumes two things. One, she will beat Alexis Davis Saturday night. Two, the UFC has a potential opponent lined up.
With the odds on a Rousey win being as lopsided as they are, and with her history of finishing opponents, and for the sake of argument, assume she does win. It still leaves her without a legit opponent. Cat Zingano, the former contender, has just started to return to training, but Dana White believes she needs a warm-up fight before she cashes in the ticket to a title fight she earned by TKOing Miesha Tate last year. Despite White’s reluctance to allow Zingano an immediate shot considering the rough year she has had, there may be few options left.
Unless of course you look to the outliers.
Surely you haven’t forgotten about the circus that took place when Dana White and Ronda Rousey took their two-person promotional act on the road and floated the idea of Gina Carano coming in to the UFC challenge Rousey after 5 years of being out of the sport? That speculation of course was deaded when it was casually announced over Twitter on a Friday night (during a Bellator broadcast) that Rousey would be taking on Davis, despite weeks of teasing the media and MMA fans that Gina Carano was UFC-bound.
With Rousey going on record that she would gladly step in and fight on a month’s notice, a showdown with Carano might be exactly the kind of silver-lining the UFC needs to save the August 2nd card, even if the fight itself makes absolutely zero sense from a competitive aspect. Unfortunately for the UFC, just because Rousey is willing and ready to fight at a moment’s notice doesn’t mean Carano is ready. In fact, according to Bloody Elbow, negotiations between Carano and the UFC have come to an impasse. However, if Carano’s management team isn’t using Aldo’s injury as an opportunity to get what they want from the UFC, she needs better representation.
Consider then the other outlier opponent in Holly Holm. If the rumored negotiations between Holm and the UFC are going as swimmingly as Dana White would like for everyone to believe, Rousey could have a legit threat on her hands, or a very real challenge at the very least. Holm, who last fought in April and suffered a broken arm, may not even be ready for primetime let alone a PPV, but she remains an intriguing out for Rousey. Holm is an accomplished stand-up fighter who would likely give Rousey fits on the feet. However, even if her contract negotiations are progressing positively, it remains unknown whether or not her arm is healed enough for her to begin training.
Then, there is Cyborg, but I have a feeling that Rousey might want to take more than a month to prep for Cristiane Santos. Also Santos would need to drop to 135, and I doubt she has been working to that lately.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to see Rousey headlining the August 2nd card. Who is standing across from her in the cage remains to be seen, but I’m willing to bet if the tumblers fall into place, Cat Zingano will finally get her chance at the title.
Then again, if Eddie Alvarez can get out of his Bellator deal now that Bjorn Rebney is out, where there is smoke, there could be fire.