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The MMA Top Ten 3.03.14: Top 10 Remaining Opponents for Ronda Rousey
Posted by Alex Rella on 03.03.2014

Ten Potential Opponents for Ronda Rousey

Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at ten potential opponents for Ronda Rousey, should be pretty straight forward. Rousey is clearing out the women's bantamweight division and could move onto acting full time within the next couple years. While the division might seem thin at times, there are plenty of intriguing fights still left for her. Some of the fights listed are outside the box and even outside the company, but I think they would all be good. I did the rankings considering current rankings, the competitiveness of the fight, potential feuds, potential ppv draw, and some of my personal opinion.

Honorable Mention:

Barb Honchak- Invicta's current flyweight champion and a really good fighter. I think at some point she'll have to either come up or cut down in weight if she wants a chance to make more money in the UFC.

10: VS Amanda Nunes

One of the rising prospects in the UFC women's bantamweight division, Amanda Nunes has showed some real potential so far. Nunes has used her backgrounds in boxing, BJJ, and judo to amass a nice 9-3 record that has her in the top ten rankings at 135 lbs. I thought Nunes was an ok fighter before coming to the UFC, but now she's gone 2-0 in the octagon and it's time for her to get a big name next. Nunes has already defeated some tough fighters like Sheila Gaff, Vanessa Porto, and Julia Budd so I wouldn't be shocked if she made a run to the top of the division.

9: VS Gina Carano

Well this one clearly wouldn't be for the title and is unlikely at the moment, but it would make for an awesome fight even if just for the build. Carano hasn't fought since 2009, but she occasionally talks about still wanting to compete. This is the only fight I ever see her returning for. Dana White would explode in his pants if he got to promote this one. Carano was a big draw for Strikeforce when women's MMA was still just getting started. The two of them would do huge numbers today. No way Carano makes 135 though, she might not even make 145 these days. But I do see Rousey moving up in weight for this fight. She's talked nicely of Carano in the past and she's only been against moving up in weight to fight Cyborg because she was caught cheating. Who knows if Carano would ever come back, but this is the only fight to make if she ever does.

8: VS Kyra Gracie

Kyra Gracie and many of her family members have been talking about an MMA debut for some time now and the UFC would love to have a Gracie that's actually good fighting for them today. Unlike so much of the Gracie talk of returns and debuts, I do think it will happen at some point. Kyra is a multiple time world champion grappler and is just too good not to take on tougher competition in MMA. Maybe Kyra is the one that can hang with Rousey on the ground, but then again we just saw that Ronda has been developing her standup as well. Kyra also has been training in boxing so it's possible she would be a complete fighter. Another Gracie fighting for gold in the UFC would be pretty cool to see considering her family's impact on the sport. She doesn't go any higher since she's never actually competed in MMA and there is the possibility that she's a bust like the other younger Gracie's

7: VS Juliana Pena

Yea she's out for who knows how long with some gruesome knee injuries, but Juliana Pena would make for a great opponent when she does return. Besides the fact that she's a little nuts, Pena is actually a well rounded and pretty talented fighter. She's shown strong grappling skills so far and while she doesn't have the best striking technique, she is pretty strong. Plus the UFC loves to give TUF winners title shots when they get the chance, so she'll likely only have to win a few fights to get into contention. Throw in that she's Miesha Tate's protege and the feud writes itself.

6: VS Lauren Murphy

Of course it's incredibly tough for Invicta to have a quality bantamweight division while the UFC recruits the best fighters in the world, but their 135 lb champ is pretty damn good. Lauren Murphy is the female bantamweight outside the UFC in my opinion and she has an impressive 8-0 record. She beat Miriam Nakamoto to become the inaugural champion back in December and she also has wins over Kaitlin Young and Sarah D'Alelio. I don't see any other bantamweight in Invicta taking her down anytime soon, though she might have to take on Cyborg at some point if she is able to make 135 lbs. Maybe Murphy adds on a few more wins and jumps ship to the UFC for an undefeated champion vs champion fight.

5: Marloes Coenen

It's a shame that probably the only thing holding Marloes Coenen out of the UFC is that she's signed with Golden Glory. Zuffa disagrees with how they handle their money (understandably so) and it's holding back a talented fighter. Coenen has spent most of her career at featherweight competing for gold in Strikeforce and Invicta, but she has excelled in her brief time at bantamweight. She beat Sarah Kaufman for the Strikeforce bantamweight title and defended it against Liz Carmouche before losing to Miesha Tate. Since then, she's returned to 145 lbs going 2-1. I think Coenen would match up nicely against Rousey if she were to ever leave Golden Glory. Hopefully she smartens up before it's too late.

4: VS Alexis Davis

Alexis Davis has been one of my favorite fighters for awhile now and I'm really glad she's been able to take her fighting to another level these past couple years. Davis came close to a title shot back in Strikeforce winning her first two fights over Julie Kedzie and Amanda Nunes, but then she lost a really close fight to Sarah Kaufman. Since then she's gone on a five fight winning streak and is the only woman in the UFC besides Rousey to be 3-0. This winning streak has included victories over Shayna Baszler, Jessica Eye, and Liz Carmouche. She could get the next title shot if Zingano needs more time to heal up. That being said, I don't think she'll be able to defeat Rousey. Davis is very well rounded in every aspect, but she isn't truly elite in any one area that would make her a real threat. She has earned her title shot though and she could make things interesting if she could turn it into a wild brawl. She's no GSP, but this title fight in Canada and it will sell out any arena.

3: VS Holly Holm

Holly Holm is going to come to the UFC at some point and it's going to be awesome. One of the best female boxers of all time, Holm has managed her MMA really smart so far. She's taking her time while fighting on smaller promotions so she can really develop as a fighter. Holm has vicious knockout power with her hands and feet, plus she's starting to show some real improvement when her fights have gone to the ground. Now 6-0, Holm is fighting for Legacy FC's bantamweight title in April and it wont be long before she finally comes over to the Octagon. In a grappler vs striker fight the grappler almost always wins, but with her knockout power and boxing defense I think Holm might be the exception to the rule.

2: VS Cat Zingano

Before coming to the UFC, Cat Zingano had a perfect 7-0 record which included multiple titles at 125 lbs, 130 lbs, and 135 lbs. This also included wins over Raquel Pennington, former Strikeforce number one contender Takayo Hashi, and current Invicta champ Barb Honchak. In fact, the fight with Honchak was the only one that went to the judges. She earned her shot at Ronda Rousey and the UFC women's bantamweight title back in April 2013 when she beat Miesha Tate in the TUF 17 finale. This was a really great fight that showcased the new division and a fairly unknown Zingano. Things haven't been going so well for Zingano since then. She's had several injuries and recently a death in her family. There's been talk of her returning to action in the summer, but hopefully she doesn't rush back too soon from either one. The division is still thin enough that she will likely hold onto her number one contender status and Zingano still poses a real threat Rousey whenever she does return.

1: VS Cyborg Santos

It's starting to look like this fight might actually happen. I agreed with Rousey and the UFC as to why it shouldn't have happened if it wasn't at 135 lbs. First there is the principle of it, Cyborg has been cheating for who knows how long and Rousey shouldn't have to budge for her. Secondly, a catchweight fight early on in the women's division would depreciate the value of the bantamweight title. Plus the UFC showed that they didn't need Cyborg to have a successful women's division. But now this all changes with Cyborg trying to drop down to fight at bantamweight. Cyborg will have to prove she can make the cut a few times before the UFC buys it, but it's going to be awesome if she can pull it off. Their legitimate hate for each other is going blow away Rousey's feud with Miesha Tate. This is a fight that can truly go either way too. This fight would be beyond amazing and I really hope it does happen at some point.

So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future
I think for next week I'll do something along the lines of pioneers you wish could compete today.

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