On Saturday night, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey attempts her third consecutive 135-pound title defense when she squares off with the quiet, but unquestionably dangerous, Sara McMann in the UFC 170 main event. If you are listening to the media, fighters, and the fan message boards, however, the clamor isn’t revolving around these elite ladies and their prizefight. Instead, everyone seems to be focusing on when Rousey will fight former Strikeforce 145-pound champion, Cris “Cyborg” Justino. It’s as if Justino is casting an inescapable shadow over this event, and I for one am sick of hearing about it. Rousey, the 2008 Bronze medalist in Judo, and McMann, a 2004 Silver medalist in wrestling mark the first time two Olympic medalists have ever squared off in the octagon. Instead of enjoying a contest between the two most decorated female fighter’s in the sport’s short history, no one can seem to stop asking when will “the real” big money women’s fight take place between Rousey and “Cyborg.”
While a fight between Rousey and “Cyborg” would easily be the highest grossing women’s fight in MMA history, there are several issues preventing the fight from being booked. For starter’s, Cris Justino is not currently under contract with the UFC. So why must the fans, media members, and other fighters cut into the spotlight of these two ladies who are making history Saturday night? For the sake of the argument, let’s say “Cyborg” does sign with the UFC, we still have not solved the issue that they aren’t even in the same weight class. Neither female seems willing to budge on shifting weight classes, so until that get’s solved can we please stop beating a dead horse with this hypothetical fight? Justino has said in the past, on record, that her cardiologist has told her that she can’t safely make 135-pounds; it would prevent her from possibly having children in the future, and even possibly result in death. Yes she said she could die making weight, I wish I was making that up. So the answer would be for Rousey to go up to 145 pounds right? It’s not that simple.
Let’s not forget that Cris “Cyborg” Justino tested positive In December 2011 for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, and was promptly stripped of her 145-pound title. So I can’t seem to understand why fans think that Rousey is obligated to go up in weight to fight a woman who’s already flunked a test for PEDs, when she’s the champion. Fans for the most part gave longtime welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre a pass for not wanting to go up to 185-pounds to fight a much larger Anderson Silva (who for the record has never failed a drug test). Doesn’t that seem incredibly unfair of us to ask that of a champion who has always been clean, including during her time facing much more strict Olympic drug testing?
In recent interviews with “Sherdog” two male pro fighters, Ray Elbe and Igor Araujo brought up “Cyborg” as the real fight they want to see. They aren’t alone; fans all over the message boards are keeping the idea of this super fight alive, and even the media has been involved in stirring the pot. This week UFC President Dana White reached a boiling point when he told reporters at a press conference for UFC 170 “She’s (being Rousey) a [expletive] rock star. She’s never cheated. She’s done all these great things. She’s an Olympian and she has to answer questions about Cyborg [expletive] Santos?” Justino was formerly known as Santos incase that threw anyone off regarding his quote. Aside from how much this is taking away from Rousey’s accomplishments leading up to her title defense at UFC 170, what about how unfortunate this is for Sara McMann? McMann has been considered the best female wrestler in the U.S for the better part of the past decade, and instead of getting the proper attention from the media, it’s all going to a fighter who isn’t even on the current roster. Sara McMann isn’t one to vocalize her concerns about the lack of attention she’s receiving. Nonetheless she’s a few days away from the biggest fight of her career, and she’s an after thought to the Rousey and Justino sweepstake.
Why everyone feels the need to cast this shadow over Rousey’s head I don’t really know. A part of me thinks that fans want to see Rousey get beaten up after all the negative publicity she created during her time filming “The Ultimate Fighter” last fall. This was obvious when she walked out to a chorus of boo’s as she stepped into the cage this past December against Miesha Tate. Its obvious fans have soured on her and she isn’t considered the same golden girl she was even just a year ago, and her not shaking hands with her rival Tate after their bout certainly didn’t earn her new fans. At this point they don’t even care how she get’s humbled, as long as she does, and “Cyborg” seems be the woman for the job. Another part of me thinks that maybe some fighters and fans want to see Rousey humbled because of how quickly everything came to her. Not since the Brock Lesner heyday has a fighter captured the main stream’s attention the way Rousey has with so little pro experience. Others just think she’s a one trick pony who isn’t as good as advertised since she’s never won a pro or amateur fight by anything other than an arm bar. I just don’t understand why the onus falls on Rousey to go out of her comfort zone, shouldn’t it be up to the rest of the 135-pound women’s division to figure out how not to get caught in a maneuver they know is coming? Some fans just simply hate how much the UFC markets Rousey, claiming no other fighter has gotten this sort of promotional push from the UFC. For the most part their right, Rousey is a special case. For the most part their right, Rousey is a special case. She broke down the wall for Women’s MMA by helping bring women to the octagon, and is now enjoying the spoils that come along with that achievement. She’s got all the endorsement deals and the Hollywood movie roles. She’s already been in Fast & Furious 7, and The Expendables 3, in 2013 alone. Now she’s being earmarked for roles in The Entourage movie, and The Athena Project, for 2014.
I for one want to enjoy this fight for what this is, and I don’t think the “Cyborg” shadow is fair for either Mcmann or Rousey. This is a big event for several reasons and neither of which involve Justino. We have two decorated American Olympic medalist squaring off for a world title smacked dab during the middle of the Winter Olympics’; it practically sells itself. If Rousey wins she would set a record for the quickest turnaround for title defenses of any UFC champion in history (56 days). With Rousey already making a slow and obvious transition into Hollywood, she probably only has a handful of fights left in her before she decides she would rather make money filming fake fights rather then actually being in them. So MMA fans, let’s enjoy her while we still have her. I don’t think Rousey needs the “Cyborg” fight for her legacy to be established, she’s already made her mark in this sport even if she decides to walk away after Saturday night, win or lose. So can we please, please, leave “Cyborg” out of the spotlight for this weekend’s big fight? I for one am absolutely fed up with hearing about it, talk to me when they decide on a weight class and have a bout agreement signed and delivered. Till then let’s just kickback and enjoy the “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey show.