After weeks of hand wringing and head scratching over the identity of Ronda Rousey’s next opponent, it turned out the answer was right under our noses all along.
Now that we know, we can all add a few more months to our Gina Carano Doomsday Clocks.
At least for the time being, all talk of movie-star superfights and big-name free agents can be tabled, as UFC President Dana White announced on Friday that Rousey will defend her women’s bantamweight crown against Alexis Davis at UFC 175 on July 5.
Anybody else feel like they’ve been had?
It appears in retrospect that Carano just played-up widespread rumors she might be next for Rousey in order to publicize her new film as something besides the subject of perhaps the worst movie review of all time. In addition, all those flags we raised on behalf of Cyborg Justino and Holly Holm ultimately proved false.
Davis is up—maybe Davis was always going to be up—and you know what? It’s the right move.
With Cat Zingano still recuperating, she’s the obvious in-house choice. The 29-year-old Canadian has won eight of her last nine fights, including three straight in the Octagon, and in a division the fight company seems dead set on promoting as Ronda Rousey and Everyone Else, that’s as good as it gets.
Davis vs. Rousey gives the UFC a nice fallback main event for its midsummer pay-per-view, just in case Chris Weidman needs more time to return from dueling knee surgeries. It’ll also provide a nice, competitive tonic to make the silliness of Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva go down easier.
Maybe it feels a little anticlimactic after all those wild stories we told ourselves, but if nothing else, Davis is a challenger we can all agree on.
She won’t beat the champion—this one has first-round armbar written all over it—but at least she fights in the UFC. At least she’s made 135 pounds. At least we can craft a pretty succinct and convincing case for her as a worthy No. 1 contender.
None of those things were true of Carano, the still-retired former non-champion who may be guilty of nothing in this besides picking an extremely advantageous time to start returning our calls.
And yet it still feels like there was an awful lot of smoke circling a proposed Carano-Rousey squash match for it all to come to nothing. There’s a sense that we haven’t heard the last of this nonsense.
The chance remains that all parties might reconvene to book that bout for the UFC’s gala end-of-the-year pay-per-view, especially now that the groundwork is laid and the initial storm of public outcry has been weathered.
It’s a fight nobody who actually knows anything about MMA wants to see, one no one has been able to justify aside from saying it seems like a good way for all involved to make a lot of money. Somehow, though—and despite Davis’ meeting with Rousey two-and-a-half months from now—it retains an air of depressing inevitability.
For one more fight, however, we can hold off on the debates over its propriety, the philosophical questions about PPV customers knowingly participating in a naked cash grab and all the fire and brimstone about what MMA really means.
Davis vs. Rousey will be a good, spirited fight between the unbeaten champion and a challenger who did everything that was asked of her in order to earn the chance.
I suggest we enjoy it for what it is.
There’s no telling what might come next.