By: Brian Chapman
On Saturday night UFC fans got what they expected out of bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in UFC 175. A quick and decisive victory against Alexis Davis to defend her title. But no one expected it to go down the way it went down. A first round TKO in only sixteen seconds, good enough for the second fastest finish in UFC history. Now that UFC 175 is done, pundits and fans are wondering who Rousey’s next opponent will be and who—if anyone—can actually give her a competitive fight.
The problem is that those are not the right questions to ask. The real question is whether or not Rousey deserves to be ranked the No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the UFC. Men included.
My answer is yes.
When you are 10-0 in your MMA career, 4-0 in your UFC career, your average fight time is less than two and a half minutes, you’ve finished nine of your ten fights in the first round, you’ve never left the decision in the hands of the judges, you’ve just clowned a so-called championship contender in less time than it takes a pitcher to throw two pitches and your boss is having more and more difficulty finding a competitive fight for you, shouldn’t that kind of dominance lead you to being named the No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the world? Of course it should, but voters have been slighting Rousey by not even putting her in the discussion, most likely because she’s a not a man.
The two main UFC rankings are the UFC’s official rankings and the USA Today/MMA Junkie rankings. Leading into UFC 175, the UFC’s official rankings ranked Rousey way down at No. 10 pound for pound in the world behind men like Renan Berao (who just lost his belt) and Johny Hendricks (who just won his first belt in March) as well as several others (like Jon Jones, Jose Aldo and Cain Velasquez) who have come much closer to losing in recent fights than Rousey ever has in her career. As if that slight wasn’t enough, the USA Today/MMA Junkie voters left Rousey out of the top 15 altogether and didn’t even make her one of the three honorable mentions.
I know that women’s mixed martial arts has not been around very long, the bantamweight division isn’t very deep and bantamweight is the only weight class in the UFC, but if Rousey continues to embarrass her opponents in the same fashion she did to Davis and just about everyone else she has faced in her undefeated career, how can she not be ranked No. 1? How can she not even be in the top five? How can she not even be ranked? Is she the Boise State of the UFC? Even Boise State lands in the top five when they get off to a 10-0 and when they get to 10-0, they’ve played only two or three ranked opponents. Rousey has won four straight UFC championships!
I know she can’t beat a male bantamweight fighter, like champion TJ Dillashaw, Berao or Urijah Faber, or any male UFC fighter in any division. I know she doesn’t have the skill set as a striker that Jones has or the power that Velasquez has or the magical ability to evade strikes from her opponent like Anderson Silva, but when your competition is so far beneath you in every fight and championship fight of your career, is No. 10 pound for pound fair to Rousey? Is No. 2 fair?
In my eyes she was a borderline top ten pound for pound fighter when she joined the UFC last year as a one trick pony who only won with arm bar submissions. Her goal was to step into the octagon and rip her opponent’s arm out of its shoulder socket and that one move was brilliant enough to dismantle any woman in her vicinity in a matter of seconds. Now she is widening the gap between herself and every other female fighter out there by taking massive steps forward as a striker. She’s won her last two fights in TKOs, not arm bar submissions.
Rousey has also fought and beaten just about everyone there is to fight from Meisha Tate (twice) to Liz Carmouche to Sara McMann to Sarah Kaufman and now Alexis Davis. Dana White is running into the same problem that he had for years with Anderson Silva of trying to find someone who can give Rousey a challenging fight. White finally found that fighter in 2013 in Chris Weidman, but until then guess who was No. 1 pound for pound. Anderson Silva.
If Rousey continues to improve her entire repertoire as a fighter and her matches continue to get less competitive, the voters will have no choice but to blast her through another glass ceiling and sit her atop the pound for pound rankings regardless of her gender. Unless, of course, the voters want to weasel out an excuse about how it’s just not right to rank a woman the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
This article is certainly not the most important glass ceiling for women to break through in the world today and it’s not about trying to give the women’s rights movement another major victory on the road to equality. This is about fairness and being properly rewarded for dominance in the octagon. In 2011, Rousey knew that it wasn’t fair for women like her to be banned from fighting in the UFC. But just two years after UFC commissioner Dana White said he would “never” allow women to fight in the UFC, Rousey changed White’s mind and she is now one of the sport’s biggest stars.
Now that women are in the octagon where they belong, it’s only a matter of time before Rousey lands where she truly belongs, looking down on everyone else—including the men—as the No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the UFC.