The most awaited match in women’s MMA may be getting fast tracked.
Wait is Over?
Current Invicta FC and former Strikeforce Featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino has reportedly said she is “confident” to make 135 pounds by December, thus setting up a possible showdown between her and UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. The bout has been in discussion over the last couple of years where Rousey has dominated the scene like no one before. But since day one, weight has been the main road block in this fight.
While Rousey started her career as a featherweight, her move to the UFC made her fight at her current 135 pound weight class which was what the UFC had (and still has). In fact, the two were already headed for a collision course when Ronda made the jump to the more lucrative promotion. Justino meanwhile continued to fight at featherweight and when Strikeforce merged with the UFC, she moved to the All-women Invicta FC where she has been just as dominant.
In the past, Justino had expressed doubts of making 135, but the addition of nutritionist George Lockhart has changed the entire picture. Justino weighed 144.6 prior to a July title defense and may have been much lighter on fight night. The addition of a nutritionist was made by Cyborg’s team after the UFC insisted that a Rousey-Justino bout will never be discussed unless the weight is at 135 which is the weight class that the UFC has.
The Last Challenge
Cyborg Justino gained status as legend killer when she retired pioneer Gina Carano with a one round destruction in 2009. Like Rousey, she has been destructive: 14-1-1 with 12 KOs and 1 submission. Carano was the face of women’s MMA and was embarking on a successful acting career when she ran into Justino. Rousey is on a similar path as Carano but if Justino is thinking that Rousey is another Gina Carano, she may be mistaken.
Ronda Rousey has been the most dominant force in MMA – male or female – and her destructive reign has been compared to that of Mike Tyson’s in boxing. Rousey’s total 12 MMA bouts have lasted the equivalent of a five round bout with none of her opponents going the distance and only one going past round one. Rousey’s last three title defenses have gone a total of sixty four seconds only and with the rate that she is improving her striking game, it doesn’t look as if there is someone who can stop her.
Justino, though, is seen as the last challenge for Ronda Rousey, who has cleaned up her weight class in two years and beating her opponents in decisive fashion. While the fight was only a dream fight a couple of years ago, it has become a necessity for the sport and Justino is the one put on the spotlight right now. Justino has even gone on record to say that if Rousey is “busy” in December, she is willing to wait for April although she already committed to making weight for a December fight at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
Who Takes This?
Although the fight hasn’t been finalized yet, the betting lines for this hypothetical dream bout have already opened. As expected, Rousey was a -311 at Bestfightodds and Justino at +269. Rousey is a force we’ve never seen before and from an armbar specialist, she has developed a very good striking game. In her last bout against the supposedly solid striker Bethe Correia, Rousey put her Brazilian nemesis to sleep with a single punch. She never attempted to put Correia to the mat and submit her, instead she stood in the pocket and traded with her. The same thing probably can’t be said against the much bigger Cyborg Justino, though.
But once Rousey puts her to the mat, and with her Olympic Judo background she can, that’s where the dominance will start to show. Justino is a jiu jitsu brown belt but her grappling isn’t as good as Rousey’s. On the other hand, Rousey’s submission wins have come via her signature armbar. The question is if Cyborg can take that.