When it comes to UFC 190, it's no secret the oddsmakers aren't doing Bethe Correia any favors. Throughout the 22-year history of the UFC, throughout all the casual mismatches, all the cases of journeymen thrown to the wolves for cheap highlight-reel fodder, no single fight has been stacked by Las Vegas quite like Saturday night's main event.
Bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey entered fight week as the single biggest favorite to defend her title of any champion ever in the history of the promotion. And that line has only climbed higher as the days have passed in Rio de Janeiro. At the time of this writing, Rousey could be found as high as a 18-to-1 betting favorite in some sports books, a ridiculous number by any stretch of the imagination, and one that would qualify as the single most lopsided odds of any UFC fight ever.
To put that line in perspective, Matt Serra closed as little more than a 7-to-1 underdog when he toppled Georges St-Pierre in a fight that many still consider to be the greatest upset ever in the promotion. So to say Correia has her work cut out for her on Aug. 1, well, that'd be an understatement.
"Honestly, I think it would be the biggest upset in UFC history," FOX analyst and occasional robot fighting commentator Kenny Florian told MMAFighting.com. "When you look at what Ronda has done, her skill level and [experience] compared to what Bethe has, or what we think she has, yeah, it would absolutely be the biggest upset. But for Ronda, we're tuning in to see domination. We're tuning to see destruction.
"It's kind of like Usain Bolt. Even when you knew he was going to win the race, it was just how fast he was going to run the race. That's kind of what you're looking for here with Ronda, the manner in which she's going to do it."
It's true, the spectacle of Rousey is easily the greatest intrigue leading into UFC 190's otherwise average pay-per-view. In just four years, the former Olympic judoka has detached herself from the often repetitious world of mixed martial arts to become an experience unto herself, one who's equal parts accessible to the general public and ferocious enough to dumbfound those who make face-punching part of their weekly viewing routine.
The numbers alone are extraordinary. 11 wins, 11 finishes -- 10 in the opening round, eight in less than one minute, two in enough time to fit in an Instagram post. Her dominance has cleaned out what used to be an incredibly competitive division in less than time than it's taken the heavyweight title to be defended thrice. Of the UFC's current bantamweight top-five, Correia is the only one yet to fall to Rousey, which is largely what led us to our current predicament in the first place, with historic odds looming over a narrative of Rousey potentially playing with her food simply to prove a point.
We've reached a place where lopsided trilogies are the best option; where Miesha Tate likely gets her chance to take it to a best-of-5 series, and somehow it makes sense because Tate was the only human being to survive more than five minutes locked in a steel cage with Rousey and keep her limbs and consciousness intact. Olympic wrestlers, black belt jiu-jitsu players, hell, even U.S. Marines have failed to accomplish what Correia will attempt Saturday night, and when Florian looks over the current landscape, he struggles to see anyone who has the physical tools to pull off what's become, if not the impossible, then at least the increasingly implausible task.
"It's not just one approach. I think it has to be a multipronged approach," Florian says. "Everyone says you've got to avoid the clinch, but it goes beyond that. You have to be able to be an excellent striker, one that is very confident with distance control.
"You have to fully understand distance control and utilize lateral movement and break out of the clinch properly. Be able to know where to put your hands and where you are vulnerable. You have to have a greater understand of judo, of wrestling, of jiu-jitsu. You have to be able to kick her. Not many people really expose her leg kicking game. Not many people know how to counter her and deal with her speed, so it's very difficult. And for Bethe Correia, I don't think there's one aspect of her game that she does better than Ronda."
Anything is possible, of course. If not irresponsible, it's at least pretty stupid to suggest anyone in this game of paper-thin gloves is infallible. There's a jiu-jitsu coach over in Long Island who can attest to that.
So if not Correia, there are other options. When it comes to Florian's breakdown, few women match more criteria than Holly Holm, the undefeated world champion boxer who put on a distance control clinic in her recent romp over Marion Reneau. She certainly wouldn't be afraid to throw out some low kicks and give Rousey a look she's never seen before. The rejuvenated Julianna Pena is always out there too, as is the mega-fight specter of Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino, if those pesky scales can ever see their way out of the conversation.
The odds for that pairing would be a spectacle of its own, no doubt, and for far different reasons than the lines presently circling Brazil like buzzards to a carcass. But for now the Rousey show rolls on to its next stop, and regardless of the vocal contingent who so eagerly despises it, watching history unfold in bizarre but masterful ways every six months ain't half bad.
"I think we'll look back on her as the woman who was far ahead of her time, maybe like our Sugar Ray Robinson," Florian says. "He was a guy who, of course he had a few losses, but when he was competing, when he was at his best, he was in a league all by himself. He was doing things that we really hadn't seen before, and I think Ronda is at that level, maybe even more.
"The only thing she needs to be careful with is the people around her, them telling her how great she is and how she's so dominant and how she's going to kill everyone and all of that. That's the kind of stuff that can creep in. Those thoughts are the ones that can be most harmful. But I don't think it's [gotten to] that point, and I don't think it's ever going to happen. When it's going on for years and years and years, that's when you start to get complacent. But I don't know, I don't think Ronda is going to be around the sport for too much longer. I think she's probably going to have another two years of domination and she's going to be gone.
"She's running out of competition, she's that good, and she's got a lot of ways to make a lot of money."