Some of former women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey’s previous opponents, who she managed to make quick work of include Sara McMann, Liz Carmouche, Alexis Davis, Bethe Correia, and Cat Zingano. All but Correia are still ranked in the top 10 of the women’s bantamweight division. The aforementioned names have all gone on different routes since their losses to “Rowdy” and while Rousey’s MMA career is likely done, it’s interesting to view their path back to title contention.
Since losing to Rousey in devastating fashion at UFC 184 in 2015, Zingano returned to face Julianna Pena at UFC 200 last July. Zingano and Pena both participated in a heavy grappling fight with the unanimous decision going to Pena. The loss appeared to signify the young lion taking her elder’s place in the division as a title contender. Zingano had recently been linked to Cris “Cyborg” Justino up until Cyborg was booked against Megan Anderson at UFC 214. It’s probably better that Zingano didn’t sign a contract to fight Cyborg, but she deserves a lot of credit for being open to such a hefty challenge. The 135 lb division needs Zingano since she holds a TKO win over the current champion, which funny enough earned her a title shot against Rousey who Nunes defeated last December.
Alexis Davis is prominently known for her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu accolades, which was why some believed she’d pose a threat to Rousey’s judo at UFC 175 in 2014. She would go on to lose in 16 seconds via TKO. The loss was followed by a victory over Sarah Kaufman a year later at UFC 186 via submission. Kaufman then went on to face Sara McMann at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in December 2016, but suffered a submission loss in the second round. Two months back, Davis fought UFC newcomer Cindy Danois at UFC Fight Nigh and fought to a unanimous decision win. The win was a nice touch, but it didn’t bring her much closer to a title shot in a relatively shallow division.
Liz Carmouche will forever be linked to Ronda Rousey given the fact that she was Rousey’s first UFC opponent in the inaguaral women’s fight at UFC 157 in 2013 for the women’s bantamweight title. Although Carmouche fell to Ropusey via armor in the first round like many others before her, she managed to create drama when she nearly secured a neck crank after she was unable to lock in a rear naked choke as she rode Rousey’s back like a backpack. The competitiveness between the two in the short exchange was a positive element in the UFC’s introduction to women’s MMA.
Since the loss, Carmouche failed to keep her name in the contenders list despite winning her next fight against Jessica Andrade via TKO. She was booked against Alexis Davis in late 2013 and was outmatched. Flash forward to 2014 and Carmouche found herself opposite of Miesha Tate and was once again outmatched. Things are beginning to look brighter for the “Girl-Rilla” as of late as she picked up a unanimous decision against Lauren Murphy in 2015 and more recently winning a split decision over Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 205 last November. The first openly gay fighter in the UFC might never reach a title shot, but stranger things have occurred.
Rousey’s last win in the UFC came against Bethe Correia at UFC 190 in Correia’s native Brazil. The fight took place in 2015 and Correia latest fight similarly resulted in a KO loss against Holly Holm. The Rousey loss shelved Correia for nearly a year and when she returned to competition against Raquel Pennington, which resulted in a split decision loss. Her next fight took place at UFC 203 against Jessica Eye and she was victorious via split decision. Corriea then fought to a draw against Marion Reneau in March this year before being knocked out against Holm this past Sunday. Correia was already criticized for her title shot against Rousey due to where she was ranked, which is why it’s no surprise we have not seen her back in the title picture since.
Sara McMann was deemed a worthy opponent due to her undefeated record and Olympic silver medal in wrestling going into UFC 170 against Rousey. The fight lasted a little over a minute as Rousey managed to score a TKO victory. McMann was booked against Lauren Murphy months later and scored a decision win over the veteran. Then she was booked against Miesha Tate at UFC 183, her toughest opponent outside of Rousey and lost a decision after initially hurting Tate on the feet.
In August 2015 McMann fought current champion Amanda Nunes and suffered a first round submission loss. McMann has pulled off three consecutive wins since her loss to Nunes, picking up wins against Jessica Eye, Alexis Davis and Gina Mazany. Although, of the three only Davis is ranked in the top 10.
With Amanda Nunes at the top of the division it appears that the threat to her title are her next opponent at UFC 213, which takes place in a few weeks, and perhaps Julianna Pena, Raquel Pennington, Zingano and Holly Holm. Pena was a competitor on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2013, coached by Rousey and Miesha Tate. Holm ended her skid against Correia and perhaps her countering style could work in her favor against Nunes. Pennington is the dark horse who is coming off her biggest win at UFC 205 against Miesha Tate and while there hasn’t been much news on her next fight, she can certainly surprise us in the near future.