Ronda Rousey's Next Opponent Likely to Be Winner of Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IFebruary 24, 2013

Ronda Rousey's first trip to the Octagon was highly successful, both in and out of the cage if early results are any indication.

The first ever women's UFC champion came out and put on a stirring performance, got caught in some tough situations courtesy of her opponent Liz Carmouche and still finished the fight with her signature armbar submission with just seconds to go in the first round.

Almost like the story was written before the night ever started, Ronda Rousey's star was on the rise before Saturday night, but it absolutely launched into the atmosphere with her performance and the attention she received from the fight.

Like any champion in the UFC, however, Rousey won't get to sit back and rest, relax and enjoy the victory too long before another contender comes along waiting to challenge her.

The UFC is still filling out its roster of the women's bantamweight (135 pounds) division, but the upcoming fight at The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale in April could be just the ticket to punch a trip to face Rousey next.

"That would make sense," UFC president Dana White said at the UFC 157 post-fight press conference when asked if the winner of Tate vs. Zingano would receive the next crack at Rousey.

Former Strikeforce women's champion Miesha Tate, who lost the belt to Rousey in a hotly contested fight from last March, takes on undefeated prospect Cat Zingano in a pivotal match in the bantamweight division.

Tate has been chomping at the bit to get a rematch with Rousey ever since losing the title to her in 2012.  Their rivalry received the most attention of any women's fight at the time since the featherweight title match in Strikeforce between Gina Carano and Cris "Cyborg" Santos in 2009.

Zingano comes to the party with a little less hype but a lot of talent.  She carries a perfect 7-0 record and has a growing reputation as a very dangerous fighter with real finishing power, having only gone to the judges' scorecards once in her career.

There's even more incentive now for the two women when they face off at The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale, with the winner more than likely next in line for a title shot and a chance to beat Ronda Rousey.

Damon Martin is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.