The spotlight is burning bright on new UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, but if she wins her first bout in the Octagon, expect the focus to shift back to whether or not a fight between her and Cris “Cyborg” Santos can be made.
Rousey’s first UFC title defense is against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 on Feb. 23 in Anaheim, Calif.
Despite Carmouche being a tough opponent, right or wrong, almost everyone has already penciled in a victory for Rousey, including UFC officials, who have stacked the hopes of women’s MMA squarely on Rousey’s shoulders.
If she does win, however, some of that pressure may be shifted back to Cyborg, who held the Strikeforce featherweight championship, and whether or not she can and will make the drop to 135 to challenge Rousey.
Although initial reactions when Rousey was signed to a UFC contract were that Cyborg just couldn’t physically make the cut, it appears the Brazilian and her camp are exploring the possibility.
“When I first signed her she told me, ‘Tito, I can’t go down to 135 because I walk around at 172, 173,’” explained Cyborg’s manager, former UFC champion Tito Ortiz. “And for a woman cut that much weight and for Cyborg to be the champion she has (been) at her weight class (145 pounds), to cut down (that far), it sounds like a disadvantage for her to cut down to a weight that she’s not used to.
“In the very beginning when they said, ‘We want you to cut down to 135. You got two months to do it,’ I said no, it’s gonna be too soon. I don’t want to hurt my fighter.”
Most people read into that response as Cyborg being unwilling to take a fight with Rousey. Ortiz, as a guest on Tuesday night’s UFC Tonight, however, explained that of course they want the fight to happen, but it’s a matter of doing it in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize his fighter’s health.
“It is going to be tough (for her to get down to 135). When she cuts to 145, she is shredded,” he stated. “To cut another 10 pounds… It’s tough to do, to get an extra 10 pounds off.”
But she is going to try.
“If Mike Dolce can do it in a healthy way, in a healthy manner, and there’s a doctor that can approve it and make it the right way, let the fight happen.”
Ortiz went on to discuss Rousey’s first title defense, as well as his own career and the switch from retiring as a fighter to becoming a manager.
Watch Tito Ortiz’s interview on UFC Tonight below…