If it wasn’t clear before, well, it is clear as day now. Ronda Rousey is the best bantamweight fighter in the world of women’s MMA.

At UFC 170, against fellow Olympic medalist Sara McMann, Rousey showed the world she is much more than just a world-class judoka. She displayed her ever-improving striking and clinch game, dropping McMann in the first round with a devastating knee to the liver.

Rousey now sits atop the UFC women’s bantamweight division unscathed at 9-0. Each win has come by way of stoppage, with a dearth of true challengers worthy or able of competing on her level.

That’s not to say there are no challengers waiting in the wings for their shot at the champ, though. In fact, there are three fighters the UFC should be taking a hard look at as legitimate challengers to Rousey’s throne.

The first of this trio is Alexis Davis. Davis made her case for a shot at the title at UFC 170, where she edged fellow top-five women’s bantamweight Jessica Eye in a hard-fought split decision.

Davis is an interesting match-up for the champion because she is an accomplished grappler in her own right. The Cesar Gracie-trained fighter holds black belts in both traditional jujitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

However, an interesting match-up on paper is much different than an interesting match-up in the cage. Davis would enter a fight against Rousey as a decided underdog, and for good reason. Davis is a natural flyweight who is fighting at 135 pounds, since the UFC does not yet house a women’s 125-pound division.

Although Rousey might not be able to submit the skilled Davis with her patented armbar, she would throw the smaller fighter all around the cage and would destroy Davis with the violent clinch game she showed off against McMann.

The second possible challenger is Cat Zingano, who stamped her title ticket back in April 2013 with an emphatic TKO victory over Miesha Tate. After that win, Zingano was slated to coach The Ultimate Fighter 18 opposite of the champion, but she was forced to withdraw from the show and the eventual title showdown after sustaining a knee injury while training.

Zingano, like the champion, is an undefeated finisher. Seven of her eight wins have come by way of stoppage, but she has yet to face a fighter with the grappling pedigree of Rousey. Just like with Davis, Zingano is not a true bantamweight and would be better suited for a women’s flyweight division.

Unlike Davis, though, Zingano is a dangerous match-up for the champion because of her striking and stopping power. Although Rousey’s striking is rapidly evolving, she is not on Zingano’s level. That being said, Rousey would have no trouble dispatching Zingano via first-round armbar.

That brings us to the only true test for Rousey in the realm of women’s MMA. Of course, that would be former Strikeforce featherweight champion and current Invicta FC featherweight champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.

There are two big problems with this potential match-up, though. First, Cyborg is not under contract with the UFC, though that’s not the hardest problem to remedy. The second issue is Cyborg’s ability to even make 135 pounds.

Cyborg is a monster at featherweight and has even missed the 145-pound weight limit in the past. Her doctor has stated that it would be a major health risk for her to even attempt to cut down to 135.

In order for this fight to even become a real option, Cyborg would have to first prove to the UFC brass that she could successfully make 135, as there is nothing worse than a fighter missing weight for a title fight. Recently, Cyborg stated her intent to make the cut and meet up with Rousey. However, saying something and doing it are two completely different things.

Although there are obviously a lot of doubts about this fight coming to fruition anytime soon, let’s just say for a minute that Cyborg does make it down to bantamweight. This fight would easily become the biggest fight in the history of women’s MMA and help catapult the sport into the MMA stratosphere.

To put it simply, Cyborg is a match-up nightmare for Rousey and would be the only fighter that would be the odds-on favorite heading into a fight with the UFC champion. Not only is Cyborg a physical monster, but she is a talented and an accomplished grappler, taking a bronze medal at the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships in 2009. Furthermore, she stands as the most feared striker in all of women’s MMA. She is 12-1 (1,) with 10 of her victories coming by way of knockout, and has also ventured to the Lion Fights promotion to showcase her Muay Thai skills.

In all reality, this fight is not going to happen in the near future. Though Cyborg is set to move to bantamweight, there is no way she will make the 135-pound limit. Even if she does somehow shed all of those extra pounds, the cut would likely take too hard a toll on her body, and it would show in her performance in the cage.

The bottom line is that Rousey is the best women’s bantamweight in the world. If an Olympic silver medalist couldn’t beat her—or even truly challenger her, for that matter—then no one currently in the division stands much of a chance.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.