Commentary

Rousey-Justino: Will it happen?

Originally Published: July 7, 2014
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Ronda Rousey versus Cris Justino.

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.

[+] EnlargeCris Justino
Dave Mandel for Sherdog Cutting weight to make 135 pounds won't be fun and games for Cris Justino.

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.

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