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Ring Around the Rousey: The State of the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Division

It was just eight shorts months ago that former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm shocked the MMA world knocking out then seemingly unbeatable Ronda Rousey at UFC 193.

Four months later in her first title defense at UFC 196 against Miesha Tate she lost the title in a five round war with Tate, getting chocked out in the last few minutes of the fight.

Tate’s reign as champion lasted about as long as Holm’s did as a few months later, on the biggest card in the history of MMA at UFC 200, Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes would headline the event and Nunes would go on to put on a dominating performance over Tate, submitting her in the first round to become the new UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Earlier in the night at UFC 200 on the main event of the preliminary portion of the night, Julianna Pena cemented her case for a title shot in the division as she defeated former #1 contender Cat Zingano with a unanimous decision win.

That all brings us to this past Saturday in Chicago at UFC on Fox 20 where Holly Holm and Valentina Shevchenko headlined the card at the United Center. A win from Holm would have most likely put her back on the short list for a title shot again but that is not what happened at all.

For five rounds, Shevchenko landed more shots, more power shots, and more takedowns neutralizing any offensive attack that Holm tried to put together. Shevchenko would go on to win the fight over Holm with a unanimous decision thus keeping the division a crazy chaotic carousal of madness leaving the fans, media and fighters in that division wondering what happens next?

So what does happen next in the women’s bantamweight division? With recent talks of Ronda Rousey coming back, Dana White has said that she will get an immediate title fight when she returns. As New York finally legalized MMA earlier this year and Madison Square Garden hosting the first UFC event in November, should Rousey and Nunes be the main event?

That is one of the many dilemmas that MMA originations face when matchmaking fights? As Holm and Tate was such a close fight, should they fight again before Tate gets a rematch versus Nunes? But don’t forget that also on the UFC 196 card, Shevchenko and Nunes had a very close fight where Nunes took home the victory that night. So should Shevchenko get the next title shot after beating former champion Holly Holm so convincingly and almost beating Nunes back in March?

Whatever the UFC decides to do one thing is for sure. This is the most competitive the women’s bantamweight division has ever been and it is quickly making its case for being one of the most competitive divisions in all of the UFC. Whether it’s Rousey, Tate, Shevchenko or Pena getting the next title fight later this year, women’s MMA has come a long way from when Dana White said it would never be in the UFC just five years ago.

So I leave with this thought. As we all speculate as to who should get the next title shot for the bantamweight title, somewhere on Saturday night, a certain Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino was watching very closely and if she can figure out a healthy way to cut down to 135lbs, everyone in that division should be very scared.

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