With a record-breaking fourteen second dismantling of Cat Zingano at UFC 184, Ronda Rousey has effectively cleaned house in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Her resume reads like a murder’s row of the best female bantamweights (and up) in the world both inside and outside of the biggest MMA promotion: Sara McMann, Miesha Tate, Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman, Julia Budd, Charmaine Tweet (who just lost her Invicta featherweight title challenge), Liz Caromuche, Sarah D’Alelio. Not a fighter on the list has a losing record. Not a fighter on the list has come close to defeating her, and only one (Tate, in her second fight against Rousey) made it out of the first round.

That’s a cleaned house if ever there was one.

Which poses a problem familiar to those who also follow the flyweight and heavyweight divisions: exactly who is left for the champion to face?

At heavyweight, Cain Velasquez at least has one more test in Fabricio Werdum. After that, the waters are considerably murkier. Demetrious Johnson at flyweight is probably the closest to Rousey in cleaning house, as he’s currently slated to take on Kyoji Horiguchi in April, and will be a massive favorite to win. After Horiguchi, who is ranked eighth, there is literally no one left in the upper echelon of division that Johnson hasn’t already bested, thanks to John Lineker’s repeated failures at making weight. Soon enough, Johnson will be fighting challengers for the second (or possibly third, in the case of Joseph Benavidez) time.

Yet Rousey faces the greatest dilemma of all: she’s so far ahead of the pack, even booking her against repeat challengers is questionable. Tate is the only fighter that has shown she can even hang with Rousey outside of a minute or so, and the champion’s openness to fighting Cat Zingano again after besting her so quickly was met with polite disinterest: once bitten, twice shy.

Short of booking an inter-gender spectacle bout, there’s not a lot waiting for Rousey in her immediate future. Luckily she’s taking some time off to film another movie (a project yet to be named), but upon her return, who will she face? Who do fans want to see her face?

Rousey is so good she’s almost eliminated most of the viable contenders left in her division without ever having faced them: does anyone really feel Bethe Correia has a chance against Rousey? Holly Holm, who many felt could challenge Rousey on the feet, made a luke-warm debut in the co-main event of UFC 184, picking up a split decision over Raquel Pennington. She needs at least two more fights in the UFC before being ready, and is smart enough to know it, as does Dana White. Then there’s Marion Reneau, a dark horse candidate who just jumped into tenth in the division. Reneau is 2-0 in the division after being told by Dana White she was “too old” for The Ultimate Fighter. However, at just 6-1 in her pro career, at best, she’d be a tough out for the champion, as she’s proven to be a gritty fighter.

Capable of beating Rousey?

Short of a stroke of luck or divine intervention, is anyone?

Which brings us to the elephant in the room: Cris “Cyborg” Justino. The current Invicta featherweight champion, and the best female fighter outside of the UFC. Formidable. Ferocious on the feet. A devastating striker. Of course, all that was said about Cat Zingano, but Cyborg already has a name in the MMA world. Short of the UFC signing Gina Carano for a one-off spectacle fight with Rousey, she’s the biggest name out there — yet comes bundled with the taint of a previously failed drug test, and questions about whether she can even make 135lbs.

There was a time when fight fans could rightly complain that Rousey should meet her at a catchweight; she has, after all, fought as high as 150lbs in the past, but at this point, bantamweight has been her home for years, and as the most dominant female fighter on the planet, she has more than enough pull to fight where and when she wants.

And so the Cyborg fight remains a maybe: maybe late this year, maybe early next year, maybe never. Maybe it’ll happen, and even then, only maybe will it live up to the hype.

In the meantime, Ronda Rousey will continue to be miles ahead of the division, weighting for a worthy challenger to emerge. Which could be a long wait indeed.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.