This weekend, Ronda Rousey is set to face Liz Carmouche in the first-ever women’s fight in UFC history. The bout will be a monumental occasion in the sport of MMA and no doubt help the progression of WMMA into mainstream status.

For the majority of those placing bets at UFC 157, Rousey is the clear favorite to win. And that’s for good reason as she’s made a number of talented fighters look like amateurs in the process of winning Strikeforce gold. For the sake of this article, let’s assume that Rousey is victorious against Carmouche. In such a case, who will be the next to challenge the “Reign of Ronda?”

Miesha Tate is a name a lot of fans will bring up, but she has her own tough task ahead of her in undefeated Cat Zingano on April 13. Zingano is inexperienced in comparison to Tate, but has finished her last four opponents and only allowed one of her victims to reach the final bell.

Tate, on the other hand, has the name recognition of a star in WMMA and the record to back it up. In part due to her wrestling credentials, Tate has amassed a 13-3 record in her career. She holds victories over the likes of Zoila Gurgel, Marloes Coenen and Julie Kedzie. The win over Coenen secured her the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight crown. Tate also won a single-night tournament just to challenge for the title, with both wins coming via unanimous decision. There’s no doubt Tate has the skills and credentials to warrant a rematch with Rousey, but she may be outdone by another UFC newcomer.

Sara McMann is without a doubt one of, if not the most decorated female grapplers in the sport today. Her list of wrestling accomplishments looks more like one of an athlete who’s retired instead of still competing. Among those accomplishments is a silver medal from the 2004 Olympic games for freestyle wrestling. Her skills on the mat have translated very well to the cage, as McMann has pushed her record to 6-0. She doesn’t have the name recognition with the casual fan like Tate, but she is certainly qualified to take on Rousey.

Possibly standing in McMann’s way is Alexis Davis. The Canadian fighter has made it a habit of not only being in exciting fights, but also winning them. Davis has won two straight and sports 13 wins overall, but has come up short when facing stiffer competition. A win against McMann would certainly erase any history of inconsistencies and propel Davis into the title scene. Davis also has grappling credentials of her own, sporting a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

There are a number of variables in play here.

If Tate finds her hand raised, the UFC could put together Rousey vs. Tate 2 on pay-per-view. The two have already produced some great trash talk and have name value among the hardcore and casual MMA fan. However, if Tate falters against Zingano, look towards the winner of McMann vs. Davis as the next title challenger. Zingano is simply too inexperienced to be thrust into a title fight, and it’d be hard for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to ignore the grappling credentials and MMA wins of either McMann or Davis. McMann’s claims for a title shot are easy if she wins. It would be her seventh straight victory. And although her record would only be 7-0, her career in wrestling more than makes up for her MMA inexperience. Davis’ case is also easy, given that she puts on a show and would have a victory over a high-profile opponent like McMann.

Any of these scenarios are of course dependent upon Rousey winning at UFC 157, because if Carmouche pulls off the huge upset, the door is wide open for any of these four ladies to slide into a title shot.

Photo: Cat Zingano (Isaac Hinds/Sherdog)