When Miesha Tate stunned the world of mixed martial arts by submitting Holy Holm to win the women’s bantamweight title earlier this month, Ronda Rousey’s highly publicized post-loss problems suddenly didn’t seem so bad.
With a pair of previous victories over the newly-crowned bantamweight queen and a legitimate reason to postpone her rematch with Holm, why wouldn’t Rowdy Ronda be pleased with the outcome of UFC 196? She’d been handed a path to reclaiming the title that didn’t exist before March 5th.
”I think that Ronda will now fight Miesha Tate for the title,” Dana White told ESPN following UFC 196. ”That’s what’s going to happen. That’s what I said before this fight even happened.”
White may have already said that Tate-Rousey III is going to be the division’s next title fight, but the promotion has yet to announce a date. And in the UFC, absolutely nothing is guaranteed until the octagon door slams shut—and even then.
Prior to Tate’s epic win, Rousey had actually asked the UFC for some additional time off following the first loss of her career after she was initially expected to return for July’s UFC 200. Until her return sometime this fall, the former Olympian was planning to focus on her acting career with lead roles in ”Mile 22” and the ”Roadhouse” remake.
However, delays in the making of both films, coupled with Tate’s unlikely win, has left Rousey more anxious to return than she was when a rematch with Holm was her only chance to reclaim the women’s bantamweight belt.
”I texted Ronda—Ronda wasn’t watching the [Tate-Holm] fight,” said White. ”I text Ronda and she said ‘what happened?’ I said ‘Miesha just choked her unconscious’, and she said ‘looks like I’ve got to get back to work.’ She’s scheduled to not come back until October or November, but it doesn’t mean I can’t ask.”
But if White and the UFC are dead-set on Rousey as the first challenge to Tate’s reign, and Rowdy Ronda’s extracurricular activities do keep her out of the cage until the fall, Holm would either have to wait until the end of the year before getting a rematch she definitely deserves, or, risk her shot at reclaiming the title by facing another contender while she waits for the results of Rousey-Tate III.
With UFC 200 still far enough away for both Tate and Holm to have full training camps, a rematch at what’s expected to be the biggest card in UFC history before Rousey’s return obviously makes the most sense.
Now that she’s finally on top, Tate’s opinion will matter to the UFC, and in her first act as a UFC champion, she’s chosen to take a little more time to weigh her options before committing to a third fight with her longtime nemesis.
”I haven’t decided yet, honestly,” said Tate. ”I’m still letting it all soak in and I’m trying to enjoy this moment. But eventually, probably after this week, I’m going to sit down and talk to my management and see what exactly is next for me and what’s best.”
Understandably, Holm has already said that she wants a rematch with Tate at UFC 200, and after epitomizing the pinnacle of women’s boxing for so many years, it’s no surprise that she appears to be just as interested in avenging her loss to Tate, as she is in reclaiming the title.
Considering the circumstances, this shouldn’t be a difficult decision for the UFC. If Rousey asked for some ”extensive” time off, great, she’s earned it. Why does Rousey have to be involved in the division’s next title fight? The UFC just held the most lucrative pay-per-view in its history with Rousey on the couch–or wherever she was.
If this three-way war for the women’s 135-pound crown has reminded us of anything, it’s that match-ups trump rankings and octagon resumes every time.
And if the UFC goes with Rousey-Tate III first, there’s a very good chance that the division will be right back where it was prior to Holm’s unforgettable victory last November.