The selection of Bethe Correia as a challenger to face Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight championship is a sign that the UFC is running out of contenders in the division.
In two and a half years since debuting in the UFC, Rousey has already defeated Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate, Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano. Rousey defeated McMann, Davis, and Zingano in a combined 96 seconds. Only once has Rousey been out of the first round, but her eventual third-round submission victory over Tate was still a very one-sided fight.
Next up is Correia, whose UFC resume includes three victories: a split decision win over Julie Kedzie, a unanimous decision win over Jessamyn Duke, and a TKO win against Shayna Baszler in her last fight. The wins over Duke and Baszler were part of a campaign by Correia to take out the “four horsewomen”: Duke, Baszler, Marina Shafir, and Rousey.
I always found the idea of defeating the four horsewomen to be a silly angle. Duke is clearly towards the bottom of the UFC women’s bantamweight division; she’s 1-3 in the UFC and just lost to Elizabeth Phillips. Baszler has been cut from the roster after one-sided losses to Correia and Amanda Nunes. Shafir is 1-2 in MMA after consecutive 37-second TKO losses and might not ever make it into the UFC. Comparing these fighters to Rousey is laughable.
And that’s the problem. The best argument Correia can make for deserving a title shot is that she’s defeated two of Rousey’s friends. Those wins are only enough to place Correia in the middle tier of the division, and now she’s fighting Rousey, who has run through the top tier of the division like a hot knife through butter.
Generally speaking, the best chance a fighter like Correia can have of beating Rousey is to win by sudden knockout, but Correia hasn’t shown the ability to win fights that way. Seven of her nine wins have gone the distance, and her TKO win over Baszler was due to an accumulation of strikes. It’s safe to say that Correia won’t be landing the same volume of strikes on Rousey.
In the end, I would say that Correia’s best chance of winning this fight is if Rousey injures herself while throwing Correia to the ground. If that doesn’t illustrate how lopsided this fight is, then I don’t know what would. Of course, I could mention the current betting lines: Rousey the favorite at -1700, Correia the underdog at +1100.
Pick: Ronda Rousey by submission
- Nothing says “PRIDE NEVER DIE” like having Mauricio “Shogun” Rua battle Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-main event of a UFC pay-per-view in 2015. There’s almost no chance this rematch can live up to the quality of their amazing fight from ten years ago. Both fighters are fragile at this point but Shogun still has better knockout power. Shogun by TKO.
- Fernando Bruno over Glaico Franca.
- Dileno Lopes over Reginaldo Vieira.
- Speaking of fragile, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is on this fight card as well, and is taking on Stefan Struve. Nogueira once won fights with an incredible chin and a tricky submission game. At this point, Nogueira’s chin is completely gone and his submission game has mostly been figured out. This pick would have been unthinkable years ago, but… Struve by TKO.
- I did a double-take when I saw that Soa Palelei was the favorite against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. I understand it: after knockout losses to Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir, Silva is very hard to trust. Palelei has knockout power for sure, but Silva really is the more skilled fighter, both standing and on the ground. I see this as a “buy low” opportunity. Bigfoot by TKO.
- WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar claims that she’s the true champion of the women’s strawweight division. The UFC is giving her the opportunity to prove it by having her face Claudia Gadelha in her UFC debut. It’s nothing against Aguilar, but I see Gadelha as the fighter to eventually beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk… so I’m not going to pick her to lose now. Gadelha by decision.
- Neil Magny’s finally getting the step up in competition I’ve been calling for as he’s set to face Demian Maia. Maia is likely in the twilight of his career but he’s still an exceptional grappler. Magny should have a huge advantage standing, but his takedown defense is questionable, and he did get submitted by Sergio Moraes a couple years ago. It’s close, but… Maia by submission.
- My statistical model hates Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, a slugger who has consistently been out-struck and out-wrestled in his recent career. Feijao got dominated by Ryan Bader, who took him down with relative ease last year. Patrick Cummins isn’t Bader, but he’s still a capable wrestler who I expect to ground and pound Feijao for three rounds. Cummins by decision.
- Warlley Alves over Nordine Taleb.
- Leandro Issa over Iuri Alcantara, who never did figure out how to defend takedowns.
- Clint Hester over Vitor Miranda.
- Hugo Viana over Guido Cannetti.