Profile: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (7-0) is an MMA sensation thanks to the unbeaten and thrilling start to her career in the sport. While she may lack experience after making her pro debut a little more than two years ago, she has quickly become one of the most dominant fighters ever. The 26-year-old from Venice was a bronze medalist in judo in the 2008 Olympic Games and made her MMA debut as an amateur on August 6, 2010. Rousey turned pro after her first three fights, each of which ended with armbar submissions within the first minute. All seven of her pro bouts have also ended the same way in the first round, with five of them decided in less than a minute. The exceptions were her battle with Miesha Tate last March for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship, which ended at 4:27 of the first round and earned her the title, and her most recent battle with Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 that was stopped at 4:49.
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Contender (+455)
Profile: Undefeated “Alpha” Cat Zingano (8-0) is coming off a smashing UFC debut after a brief but successful stint in Invicta in which she displayed her smothering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 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 four knockouts with three submissions. The 30-year-old Colorado native turned the tables on Miesha Tate in her bout 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, who will also oppose her as a coach on the first co-ed season of TUF in history.
Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas has made the champ Rousey a massive -765 favorite (bet $765 to win $100) against the challenger Zingano, who opened as a +455 underdog (bet $100 to win $455) at 5Dimes sportsbook. This line should drive up toward -1000 like Rousey’s previous UFC title bout against Carmouche, but Kalikas noted that bettors should expect it to come back down closer to fight night because some will be tempted by the perceived value on Zingano. Truth be told, it’s hard to envision anybody in the women’s MMA world stopping Rousey’s armbar right now. But Zingano has serious knockout power and will try to keep it on the feet as long as possible in hopes of landing strikes with strength her opponent may have never seen before. Carmouche surprised many early on in her bout against Rousey with a standing rear-naked choke attempt, including Rousey herself. But Rousey’s world-class judo skills ultimately brought their fight to the ground, where she looks to be unstoppable. Zingano showed great stamina against Tate, coming on strong in the third round of their bout to end it. However, she will not be able to start slow against Rousey, and at the same time must do everything she can to avoid the armbar. Making it to the second round would be a win in itself for Zingano, a feat none of Rousey’s opponents as an amateur or pro have yet accomplished. If Zingano can make it to the second round, MMA fans will see Rousey tested for the first time ever, although it’s hard to imagine her ever abandoning her signature move. Zingano will likely need to rely on a series of punches and kicks in an attempt to pull off a shocking upset and simply hope she gets an opportunity to connect before it’s too late.