The first American woman to medal in Olympic Judo, Ronda Rousey (10-0) has gone from promising amateur to the reason why women’s MMA is in the UFC in just over three years. Her meteoric rise through the sport is as unprecedented as her eight-straight armbar wins between 2011 and 2013, seven of which came in the first round. Rousey was the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion prior to entering the Octagon, and she is now the reigning and defending UFC women’s bantamweight champ, having already defended her belt four times. Her judo is seemingly impossible to defend against, and, at only 27 years of age, she keeps improving and her striking gets better with every fight — her last two wins by T/KO prove she’s not just a one-trick pony anymore. No woman has been able to truly threaten her, with Rousey finishing the likes of Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate (2x), Liz Carmouche, Sara McMann and Julia Budd with ease. She’s the most dominant champ in women’s MMA history, and looks to continue her assent to the top of the sport with a win over No. 1 contender Cat Zingano at UFC 184.
Undefeated “Alpha” Cat Zingano (9-0) is coming off two impressive wins in the UFC, which followed on the heels of a brief, yet successful stint in Invicta in which she displayed her smothering BJJ skills. In her entire career, Zingano has only visited the judges once, which speaks to her killer instinct inside the cage, as she has scored five knockouts with three submissions. The 32-year-old Colorado native turned the tables on Miesha Tate in her bout against the former Strikeforce women’s champion at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, rallying after a slow start in the first two rounds and registering a third-round TKO. With that impressive victory in the TUF 17 Finale, Zingano was rewarded with a title fight matchup against UFC champ Ronda Rousey, but after blowing out her knee, was removed from the show. She spent a year-and-a-half on the sidelines but returned to the win column at UFC 178 with a third-round TKO win over Amanda Nunes to once again earn another crack at Rousey and her title.
Opening UFC 184 Main Event Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Rousey a massive -1300 favorite (bet $1300 to win $100) while Zingano opened as a +700 underdog (bet $100 to win $700) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. A line for this fight was previously opened up last April, but after Zingano blew her knee out the fight was pushed back, and it will be a full two years since the two were originally supposed to meet that they finally will. To be honest, not much has changed since the fight’s original announcement. Since then, Rousey has knocked out Sara McMann and Alexis Davis and armbarred Miesha Tate again, while Zingano has only fought once in that period of time, surviving an early onslaught from Amanda Nunes before beating her via third-round TKO at UFC 178. I do think Zingano is the best opponent Rousey has had so far, but it likely won’t matter. Rousey has shown few holes in her game and she keeps improving every time we see her. There’s no doubt Zingano is a tough woman with a ton of heart and a great skillset of her own, but she’s simply an inferior mixed martial artist to Rousey, and that’s why she enters this fight as a massive underdog.