Rousey-Justino: Will it happen?
MMA Live Extra: UFC 175 Recap
Let's cut to the chase: This is the most intriguing fight in female combat sports. I know it, you know it. UFC president Dana White -- he knows it too.
We all saw what Rousey (10-0) did Saturday at UFC 175. Or, actually, maybe you didn't see it. Maybe you glanced at your phone to type, "So excited for this fight!!! #TeamRousey [fist emoticon]" and by the time you looked up, it was over.
Justino (12-1) was the first name that came to mind after Rousey annihilated Alexis Davis in just 16 seconds Saturday. Not Gina Carano, as much as Carano would sell. And not Cat Zingano, as talented as Zingano is.
In combat sports, there is no better matchup than dominance versus dominance. Rousey is unbeaten, and Justino hasn't lost since her professional debut in 2005.
Will the fight happen? That's a question we've been going over for years. There is no definitive answer, but a quick game of myth versus fact might help us get an idea.
1. Justino just needs to lose muscle and she can make 135 pounds easy -- MYTH.
There seems to be this misconception (Rousey and White have likely helped build it) that Justino can easily drop to bantamweight whenever she wants. She can't. She cuts a significant amount of weight to make her current 145-pound division.
On Saturday, White basically implied that Justino isn't mentally committed to wanting a UFC title or a Rousey fight. He said the UFC offered Justino a contract before she signed with Invicta FC and questioned her fighting spirit in general.
"You either want to come in and be the world champion or you don't," White said. "It's fun to talk about this stuff with her but the reality is ... you sit here and listen to [Rousey] talk, where she's willing to fight back-to-back and injured. Her and Cyborg aren't even on the same level, mentally."
There is no denying that Rousey appears to be one of the most committed athletes on the UFC roster, but comparing her love for fighting to Justino's ability to cut an amount of weight that may be physically possible isn't really a fair one.
2. The UFC needs to stop "protecting" Rousey and make a catchweight fight -- MYTH.
This one doesn't work either. Yes, Rousey has fought at featherweight before, but not anymore. She's the bantamweight champion. There is no featherweight division in the UFC. Asking the promotion to risk the reputation of its bantamweight champion in a catchweight fight is pointless. It makes no sense for them long term.
Until the UFC adds a female featherweight division, a Rousey versus Justino fight would have to take place at bantamweight. Justino already knows this, which is why she has been slowly cutting weight this year and hopes to be at 135 by December.
3. It's become clear White will never sign Justino -- MYTH.
Quite the opposite, really. As White stated, he already tried to sign Justino to a unique deal that would have allowed to her to fight in Invicta but remain under Zuffa contract. She turned down the offer due to financial reasons.
Despite everything negative White has ever said about Justino (mostly related to her failed drug test in 2011), he would and will sign her to the UFC if 1) She makes the weight; 2) They come to financial terms; and 3) She would probably need to agree to stay at 135 pounds and defend the title in the event she beats Rousey.
4. Fans and media will rip the UFC if it signs Justino to a contract -- MYTH.
This one is for White. On Saturday, White asked media members to raise their hands if they felt the UFC should sign Justino. Almost all of them did.
He then laughed and said, "I just don't want to hear your bulls--- if I do. As soon as I sign her, it will be drug testing and all this other bulls---."
White thinks that because he has gone back and forth with the media over drug testing (and testosterone-replacement-therapy) many times in the past couple of years. Justino failed a drug test in 2011 and served a one-year suspension.
But media and fight fans don't have a history of getting hung up on a failed drug test once the guilty fighter has served a suspension. The problem, in recent years, was when male fighters with previous failed tests would then get approval to use TRT.
TRT is now banned. Justino has been drug tested, randomly, by the Nevada State Athletic Commission this year and passed. If she were to fight Rousey in Las Vegas, Justino would most likely be randomly tested throughout her camp. Few, if any, would attack the UFC for signing Justino based on that 2011 test.
Without further ado, here are the grades for UFC 175 and TUF Finale.
UFC 175 Grades
Penn said it best immediately after the fight: He shouldn't have been in the Octagon on Sunday. The fire that once lived inside Penn blew out long ago. This was arguably the worst performance of his career -- but he gets an A+ because he's a legend and one of the gutsiest fighters this sport will ever know. Congrats on a great career, BJ.
I expected the fight to end around the 2-minute mark. Boy was I off. At this point, what is the game plan against Rousey? What does that even look like? I'm not sure if Cat Zingano has the answer, but I'm down to see her try.
Lyoto Machida turned in a champion-caliber effort -- and Weidman still beat him four out of five rounds. Against anyone else, Machida might have gone home with the belt. If you're one of the "those" and still aren't impressed with Weidman, you never will be.
It was an Edgar-esque performance. He was in and out, up and down, and before the end of the first round, everyone knew Edgar had that fight won -- including Penn. Edgar remains a viable contender and might fight for the belt sooner rather than later.
Toes heal. Glory lives on forever. This was the Uriah Hall we've been waiting to see in the UFC. Aggressive, confident, mean. If Hall starts doing this regularly, he will break into the division's top 10 pretty quick. Seriously, Godspeed to that toe.
Dude got after it. Remember, TUF Finales are still UFC debuts. Some finalists look comfortable while others don't. Eddie Gordon wasted no time and put it on a stiff-looking Dhiego Lima. Never mind the blatantly obvious blows to the back of the head.
Well-rounded flyweight Dustin Ortiz knows how to grind when he has to. Quietly, the guy has defeated Justin Scoggins and Ray Borg back-to-back and probably should have been awarded a decision against John Moraga. Nice run for the Duke Roufus student.
His celebration of a first-round knockout was pretty killer -- and hard to describe. It was sort of a tribal, "Jacare" Souza alligator, throat-slash gesture all wrapped into one. And then he called out Matt Mitrione. These things get you noticed.
Would things have been different had he come forward earlier? Impossible to say. Lyoto Machida was most successful in the fourth round, when the score forced him to let his hands go, but there's no guarantee anything would have changed had he done it sooner. At the end of the day, Machida fought his fight and simply lost to the better man.
It was far from his best performance, but when push came to shove, Faber closed. When your name is Urijah Faber and you have fame and stomach muscles to spare, everyone is gunning for you. Faber got Alex Caceres' best and still submitted him in the third.
His dream of becoming the UFC's youngest-ever champion took a major hit, but this 22-year-old is clearly talented. Some even thought Justin Scoggins won the fight. It felt as if had he come up on the winning side of one more scramble, he would have had it.
For about a million-to-1 underdog, Alex Caceres exceeded expectations. He didn't make it easy on Faber, and I thought he had a claim to winning the second round (even if all three judges disagreed). Overall, not a bad effort by Bruce LeeRoy.
I mean, what grade does one get for taking a few steps forward, eating a punch and a knee, getting thrown and then going unconscious? Alexis Davis lasted the shortest amount of time of any Rousey opponent, but then again, she fought the best version of her. I guess an F is the only appropriate grade. She definitely didn't pass the Rousey test.
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