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Strikeforce Aftermath: Ronda Rousey vs. 'Cyborg' Santos the Only Match to Make

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

SAN DIEGO -- Fedor Emelianenko is gone. So is Nick Diaz. And Dan Henderson. And Gina Carano. Daniel Cormier is on his way out.

With its roster depleted of star power, there's only one A-list, blockbuster match left to make in Strikeforce: Ronda Rousey vs. Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.

And despite a verbal war of words between the two which has only just begun, both of them know it.

Rousey is claiming she won't meet Santos anywhere except 135 pounds. One can understand why she's saying this, given Santos', ahem, history.

But the reality of the situation for Rousey is that she's already destroyed everyone else in her path, with her 54-second dismantling of the talented Sarah Kaufman the latest feather in her cap.

Rousey has turned herself into a rock star, and she'll get attention every time she opens her mouth. But if she's going to truly cash in on her fame, the public has to buy the notion that her opponent has a chance of beating her. For all the buzz Rousey generated, there sure were a whole lot of empty seats in the Valley View Casino Center on Saturday night. A bout with Santos is the only one, at this point, which has a chance at filling those seats.

As for Santos, what other options does she have? She's under suspension for cheating. Her entire record is under question because of it. if she avoids fighting Rousey when she returns, her reputation will be forever sealed.

Whether "Cyborg" can even make 135 pounds is another question. I don't claim to be a physician or a scientist and won't pretend to know the answer. I do know that Santos has had trouble making weight at 145 and has missed by as much as six pounds.

Rousey needs Santos more than she's letting on. Santos has the choice of either fighting Rousey or remaining in disgrace. Strikeforce and Showtime need to get this bout done because after Cormier vs. Frank Mir on Sept. 29, Rousey vs. Santos is the biggest fight they can make regardless of gender.

Given what's at stake for all parties, here's a guess that when all's said and done -- and we'll hear a lot more from both sides before we get there -- Rousey and Santos meet at 140 sometime in 2013.

Strikeforce quotes

"I don't owe her anything. And she needs to fight me more than I need to fight her. There's a line [of opponents], they all want to beat me up now. So, really, she needs to come to me." -- Rousey, explaining why Santos would have to come down to 135 pounds to face her.

"I'm not going to ask for that at that point because I don't feel that I deserve it. I think that I need to take a couple fights and I need a better performance than that. I think the fans deserve something better, and I know that I can deliver better than that." -- Miesha Tate, saying she feels unworthy of a shot at Rousey's title after her comeback win over Julie Kedzie.

"Sorry guys, I've had a little vodka." -- A noticeably animated Kedzie, after tripping over her words when asked a question at the post-fight press conference.

Stock Up: Bobby Green

This guy's been kicking around the Southern California scene forever. He had a reputation for wildness, including one infamous night in Affliction in which he nailed Dan Lauzon with three low blows, and then got choked out ... all in one round. Green made it look easy against previously unbeaten Bobby Ricehouse in garnering a unanimous decision, for his fourth straight Strikeforce win. I'm not claiming we're looking at a future champion or anything, but the 24-fight vet has earned a step up in competition.

Stock Down: Roger Bowling

Bowling's a no-nonsense power puncher who isn't afraid to get in down-and-dirty brawls. Bobby Voelker was willing to engage him on those terms, which is a big part of what made their trilogy compelling. But that approach has its limitations, as was demonstrated Saturday night against Tarec Saffiedine. Saffiedine fought a smart, patient bout and slowly picked Bowling apart en route to a 30-27 across-the-board decision. If Bowling doesn't make the necessary adjustments, his career is likely to stall out at its present level.

Good Call and Bad Call

Going to combine these into one this time around. Showtime dropped the ball by relegating the Tate-Kedzie bout to the preliminary card. On the show which featured the women's fight with the strongest buzz in several years, this one belonged on the main card. But Showtime also gets the "good call" nod for recognizing what they had on their hands after this Fight of the Year candidate battle played out, and they're making it available for viewing on Showtime On Demand, so good on them for doing something to right a wrong.

Fight I Want to See Next: Rousey vs. Santos

I usually try to come up with something creative in this spot, but sometimes the obvious fight is the right one.

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