Fightweets: Pondering Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano

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You can always count on something filling the void on a slow mixed martial arts week. Some weeks, it's serious news like Nevada banning TRT. Others, wild rumors like UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey vs. former Strikeforce champion Gina Carano spread like brush fires.

This week was an example of the latter. So it's time for a Fightweets which features Rousey-Carano conjecture; Fight Pass musings, and a bit of a look ahead to UFC 171.

Ronda vs. Gina?

@grza81: So daddy Dana lets Gina cut in line but he won't let Cyborg? Sounds like he's protecting his princess

@sigep422wesg: with the big news rumor of a @ginacarano vs @RondaRousey fight, how is Gina going to make 135? She had problems wth 145

Well, not just that, but Gina also had trouble making 140, back in the good ol' days when Gary Shaw devised a bunch of new weight class limits which just so happened to coincide with the ideal weights of the fighters he wanted to turn into stars. Gone but never forgotten, Elite XC.

But let's hold off on that for a second. Look, like everyone else, my initial reaction to the idea of Ronda Rousey meeting Gina Carano was roughly "get outta town." But then Dana White refused to dismiss the rumors when given the opportunity early in the week, followed by a Friday scrum in London in which he said Carano still has four fights left on her Strikeforce contract and would have no problem giving her a fight in the UFC. Which gives us the green light to go right ahead and speculate on all this.

Here are the reasons why there hypothetically could be a bit of smoke, here: 1. The UFC has absolutely nothing to run with for the big Fourth of July weekend card right now; 2. Cat Zingano stated on Friday's Inside MMA that she's looking to get back into the Octagon by mid-to-late summer, but that's a wait-and-see thing at this point, and Alexis Davis doesn't yet move the needle as a title contender; 3. Carano's action move career isn't exactly going gangbusters these days, and if she is ever going to return to MMA, now is the time.

Does Rousey vs. Carano make sense from a competitive standpoint? Nope. Of course not. Rousey would likely dismantle Carano, and fast. But, was Ken Shamrock really the top contender at light heavyweight for his 2002 fight with Tito Ortiz? And was Royce Gracie really a challenge for Matt Hughes in Hughes' prime? No, and no. But both of those fights, which are in the same category of curiosity attraction that Rousey vs. Carano would be, did huge business for the standards of their time and gave the UFC big attention and a jolt of momentum at a time the company needed it, which is a position the UFC again finds itself in.

This brings us back, of course, to the fact that Carano had trouble with 140, never mind 135, which she's only hit once in her career. So in this hypothetical world which White didn't dismiss, how would they go about making the match? White spent much of the past year going on and on about how there's just no way possible they could do a catchweight for Cyborg Justino in a match against Rousey. Does White go back on his word to make what would undeniable be a giant seller in Rousey vs. Carano happen? My guess is, if this ever did go down, they would bend on the weight issue if they had to in order to make the fight happen -- they did so for Hughes vs. Gracie -- then White would turn around and berate everyone for "bitching" about it.

Who knows? Even if Carano returns for a fight, chances are, with her five-year absence and the improved competition, Rousey vs. Carano probably all ends up a fun, but pleasant diversion, something to laugh about a few months down the road. But the talk of the fight absolutely caught fire this week, indicating big potential interest. And that alone has to make people on W. Sahara Blvd. wonder "what if."

What if Woodley wins?

@Miguel_RJS: Who should get a title shot next at ww if Woodley wins. Winner of shields/lombard, Rory, or Nick Diaz?

Great question. I think most are in agreement that if Carlos Condit defeats Tyron Woodley at UFC 171 next week, then Condit is plainly next in line for the winner of Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler for the vacant UFC welterweight title.

If you go through the list here, no one has an absolute lock on a title shot.

Fair or not, the UFC is in no rush to give Jake Shields another title shot anytime soon. He's going to have to do what Jon Fitch did back in 2007-08 and rack up a ton of wins to force the issue. Lombard is just in his second fight in the division after a lackluster showing at middleweight and still needs to be rebuilt. MacDonald had a stellar win over Demian Maia, but given that it came on the heels of his loss to Lawler and lackluster win over Jake Ellenberger, he's at least one more quality win away from a title shot.

As for Diaz, can you blame him for holding out for a title shot? Remember the circumstances under which he was given his shot at Georges St-Pierre's belt last year: Diaz was coming off both a loss and a suspension, and still got the nod. Diaz knows he's got drawing power and his history suggests if he holds out, he'll get what he wants, so you can't knock him for trying. When push comes to shove, though, Nick Diaz hasn't won a fight since 2011 and while the UFC is fluid in handing out title shots, this is just too much of a stretch at this point, even with the company in need of someone with his star power.

So with all that in mind, the answer to your question might actually be T-Wood himself. Let's say Woodley defeats Condit in a convincing manner. Now, all of a sudden, on the heels of knocking out Josh Koscheck, he's beaten the former WEC and UFC interim champ and the guy who many felt should have been in the fight for the vacant championship to begin with. In a field in which no one else has a clear-cut claim for a title shot ahead of the rest, a vicious KO followed by a win over a fighter of Condit's caliber could be enough to get him the nod.

Ranking "The Menace"

@ryan211: If Michael Johnson beats Melvin Guillard this Saturday, where does this place him in the lightweight rankings?

Into the top 10 and ready for a big-name opponent. If "The Menace" defeats Guillard in London, that would give him a clean sweep against Guillard, Gleison Tibau, and Joe Lauzon. That's basically the entire tier of lightweights consisting of veteran mainstays who can give anyone in the division a run for their money on any given night, the guys who are too good to insult with the term "gatekeeper" but are not title challengers.

Johnson didn't just win his last two fights: Lauzon's never looked worse in a decision loss, and Johnson leveled Tibau. Add a win over Guillard and yeah, time to give this guy a big step up in competition.

Good ol' Vitor

@dpop2: How is it that Vitor doesn't have enough time to get off try but Chael does and they fight a week apart?

Well, Chael doesn't have an drug test undisclosed results hanging over him, taken while waiting to get re-licensed in a state in which he already got dinged for steroid use. Vitor does. (BTW, if Vitor passed the test, what are the odds he'd be keeping the results a secret?) The math in this equation seems as simple as 1 plus 1.

Fight Pass and tangentially related subjects

@Auggie85: (1/2) 2-3 years ago I would rarely miss a UFC event (ppv or tv). Now there are too many cards to keep up with and most

@Auggie85: (2/2) are kinda weak (definitely not 'can't miss cards'). Aside from the global expansion, is this hurting the UFC?

A rule of thumb I've held in eight years covering MMA: I will never, ever tell a fan they should spend their money on something they don't want to. That's your choice as a consumer. One of the positives about the pay-per-view model is that if you don't want to watch a fight, no one is forcing you to turn over your head-earned money.

I do think the UFC needs to start listening to guys like you, who are more hardcore, loyal fans, when you tell them you're not watching as many shows as you used to. White's stock line over the years, when asked about whether the product risks overexposure, is to say something to the effect of "no one ever says there are too many NFL/NBA/MLB/etc." games. Maybe not, but even the most diehard MLB fans aren't going to watch every inning of all 162 games. Hell, I have Clippers season tickets and end up selling off tickets to about 15 games a year (I mean, why pay to watch them beat up on some terrible team, unless it's the Lakers, which is too much fun to pass up?).

So if the UFC is following that model, they've got to accept on some level that even their most solid fans are going to get more selective about which events they watch. Of course, this might be the plan all along, here. Which brings us to ...

@dpop2: Why put the man who had an all-time classic war with your most prominent champ on Fight Pass?

Great question, and one that Alexander Gustafsson has been asking, himself.

This is a pretty solid card in London on Saturday, when you consider Johnson vs. Guillard, Brad Pickett's flyweight debut, Gunnar Nelson being back in action, etc.

And it's also worth noting that since the bulk of these Fight Pass cards are geared for foreign markets, the need to be able to fill the building with marketable names on top. This will be one of the more interesting things to keep an eye on as Fight Pass plays out. When the UFC returns to Ireland, for example, will it put Conor McGregor on Fight Pass and risk limiting exposure for a fighter on the verge of a breakout?

In this case, that includes putting Gustafsson, who presumably is being being positioned for a title rematch with Jon Jones after last year's Fight of the Year, on Fight Pass. On paper, it seems like you'd want to have Gusty in a FOX main event or PPV co-main to help build him. The UFC appears to have calculated that there's ultimately more money to be made in growing the brand around the world, so Fight Pass is a way give fans in North America a chance to watch the international shows, whether live or on their own time, while they work on maximizing the brand overseas.

Clearly, figuring out which fighters to put on Fight Pass is going to be a trial-and-error process, and as much as we might want to pontificate about it, no one knows for sure how this is going to pan out, so there's no point in making definitive declarations at this point.

@Steven1CR: Is Fight Pass going to crash during the event on Saturday?

Shhhh.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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