Uh oh. Sounds like some members of the media aren’t falling for that ‘Cyborg is afraid of Ronda Rousey’ line the UFC has been peddling for the past couple of weeks. Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Wagenheim:
But Santos isn’t the one running scared. The UFC is.
“Cyborg” vs. “Rowdy Ronda” would have been the logical choice for the promotion’s historic first. It’s the one fight that even those with little regard for women’s MMA would be intrigued to see. But Dana White & Co. have invested much in this new division, a venture they had no interest in undertaking until Rousey came along. What if their Olympic-hero, sex-symbol champ were to be vanquished by a brutish Brazilian with the steroid-tainted resume? How does that fit into the marketing plan?
Well, there is no “Cyborg” marketing plan. There’s not even a “Cyborg” in the UFC anymore.
So White can’t be serious in dismissing the possibility of a catch-weight meeting between Rousey and Santos simply because the belt would not be at stake. This is a belt that has never once been put on the line. Does he think fans would turn their noses up at the fight because some brass-and-leather strap, so new that it probably still has its department store tags attached, wouldn’t be on the line? Nonsense.
Or, to use the words White used in characterizing Santos’ position that she’d be jeopardizing her health by dropping to 135 pounds: “It’s wacky beyond wackiness.”
The whole article is a pretty great takedown of the politics behind Rousey vs Cyborg not happening, but in those politics also lies the completely legit reasons the fight isn’t already booked: what happens to women’s MMA in the UFC if the star fighter the division is being built around loses to a someone there isn’t even a weight class for?
The UFC is generally pretty good at throwing together tough fights and letting the chips fall as they may, but you might excuse them for being slightly skittish when there is such a massive downside – rendering their 135 pound champion irrelevant, possibly tanking the brand new women’s division, and all that jazz.
This isn’t quite a normal situation. An entire gender’s future in the sport sorta hangs in the balance here. And while I’m still all for the fight (and believe it will happen once WMMA in the UFC has been fully accepted into the UFC fold), we gotta be realistic about why it’s not happening. Which means dumping this stupid ‘Cyborg is scurred’ talk.