Choosing an Opponent for Holly Holm

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Last Saturday at UFC 193, the world was shocked when Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in what could be considered the biggest upset in UFC history to become the new UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Holm’s ability to execute her superior striking, cut fantastic angles and great work in the clinch led to MMA’s version of Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas; and now that Holm is our new champion, the UFC has some booking decisions to make. Should Rousey get an immediate rematch, in an attempt to bring the UFC’s brightest star back to glory? Will the UFC start sending new challengers at Holm as they did for Rousey?

Next Fights to Make for Holly Holm

The UFC is certainly embarking on a new era in WMMA, but  here are several options they have in booking Holm’s first title defense.

Ronda Rousey

This makes the most sense, and is probably the most likely to happen, though the recent report of Rousey facing a six month medical suspension following her loss at UFC 193 could put a damper on their immediate rematch, but one down the road is most likely going to happen.  Even UFC president, Dana White, has commented that a rematch makes sense, and a Holm vs. Rousey 2 could draw huge numbers.

Whether or not Rousey should take an immediate rematch is debatable. Rousey most likely would benefit from some time off and could use a break from the limelight. A chance to escape, recoup and reevaluate her training might be in her best interest if she does have plans on fighting Holm again.

My guess is Rousey will indeed take some time off before returning to the Octagon. And most would agree this is in her best interest. Even fellow fighter, Daniel Cormier, agrees, saying, “She’s been so dominant in the past, but that didn’t work tonight. She has work to do. I don’t think we need an immediate rematch. The things she needs to fix will take a little time.”

Miesha Tate

Miesha Tate could be considered one of the biggest winners from UFC 193, despite that fact that she didn’t even fight on that card. In the time leading up to UFC 193, it was widely believed that Tate would get the next shot at Rousey, closing out their trilogy of fights, and their well-publicized feud. Tate had held the distinction of being the only person to make it out of the first round against Rousey, and was in fact the woman that Rousey dethroned when she first earned the Strikeforce title. But White pulled Tate from the fight, claiming that, “at this point in her career, if she loses to Ronda Rousey a third time, it’s a career-killer.”

Tate was coming off a solid run before being denied her fight with Rousey. She was on a four-fight win streak, and in the eyes of many fans, had legitimately earned a title shot. Tate definitely felt slighted by White and the UFC and even publicly stated she was considering retirement after being pushed out of a title shot. White responded in typically White fashion, saying, “Miesha probably should retire if that’s what Miesha is thinking right now. It’s probably a good idea.”

But now with Rousey out of the picture, I find it likely that Tate will reconsider those ‘retirement’ thoughts for a chance to challenge Holm in her first title defense. If Rousey does take an extended layoff, Tate is unquestionably that next fight for the UFC to make against Holm.

Amanda Nunes

The fighter that is perhaps the most under the radar right now for casual MMA fans is Amanda Nunes. But Nunes is no joke, she’s 11-4, ranked #4 by UFC.com and is coming off back to back wins over Shayna Baszler and Sara McMann. Nunes certainly isn’t too far off from a title shot, and recently let her title aspirations be known, loud and clear on twitter.

Cat Zingano

But she lost her last fight; she shouldn’t get a title shot!

Yes, I’m well aware of her 14 second lost to Rousey back at UFC 184. But don’t forget that Zingano is an absolute killer who was 9-0 going into her fight with Rousey, and was coming off big finishes over Tate and Nunes, and was considered to be Rousey’s toughest competition ever. The fight didn’t go her way, as she opened up with a questionable decision to fire out of the gate with a flying knee. Regardless, Zingano is still a top contender and is still ranked at #3 by UFC.com.

And though she is coming off a loss, the UFC hasn’t seemed to have a problem with that, considering their recent booking decisions in the Light Heavyweight division. Cormier received a title shot for the vacant belt against Anthony Johnson after losing to Jon Jones. Alexander Gustafsson received a title shot after getting knocked out in the first round by Johnson in his previous fight. So if the fight makes sense, and is between two top contenders the UFC apparently cares little if a fight is coming off of a loss.

Cristiane Justino

OK, I admit that this one is definitely the least likely, but a match-up between Cyborg and Holm would be huge. A bout between Cyborg and Rousey has long been rumored to be in the making, but has never come to fruition. The problem remains the same as it ever was, whether or not Cyborg can make weight and cut down to 135 lbs. If she can ever make Bantamweight, it only makes sense that the UFC would sign her and put her in a main event. A match-up between Holm and Cyborg would be one of the biggest WMMA fights the UFC could put on and may even be win-win for the company. If Cyborg wins, the UFC still has a lucrative Cyborg vs. Rousey fight they can set up, and one that casual fans will be attracted to. And if Holm wins, she comes off as a destroyer of worlds if she can pull off back to back wins over Rousey and Cyborg.

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