Newly belted UFC women's Bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey will be defending her title against Liz Carmouche in the headliner of UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California next February 23. But Carmouche isn't the opponent the UFC originally wanted.
"That's the fight that should be happening," White said at yesterday's UFC on Fox 5: Henderson vs. Diaz press conference. "Tito Ortiz is her manager, and he advised against it."
When Sara McMann and allegedly Miesha Tate (Tate denies declining the fight) both turned down the fight, Carmouche got her chance.
Ortiz texted MMA Junkie and denied White's claim.
"That was never said!" 'Cyborg' will fight her anytime, anywhere at 145. Cris said she would kill herself trying to make 135. I won't allow it, (and) neither should the UFC or Dana. Cris wants the fight, fans want the fight, and so does the UFC.
"If Ronda is such a great fighter, why doesn't she fight at the weight she started at? This is no different than (Anderson) Silva cutting to 170 to fight GSP. It's not healthy, period."
An unnamed "rep" of Cris Cyborg contacted TMZ with more commentary:
"This is a fight all the fans want and we want to give to them. We have offered to fight Ronda at a catch weight of 140lbs. She has turned that offer down and will not budge to make this fight happen.
"Cyborg wants Rousey but can not and will not drop to 135.
"We understand Ronda is worried about losing because of her new found fame. We are not worried about fame; we are worried about Cris' health."
As we posted yesterday, Cyborg then spoke to Brazilian site Tatame and told them she WOULD lose enough weight to face Rousey at 135lbs, but not at UFC 157.
For her part Rousey remains optimistic that the Cyborg fight will happen. As she said at yesterday's press conference:
"(The Cyborg fight is) going to happen eventually. I can't make these girls fight me when I want them to fight me and I have a lot of respect for Liz. She was the only one that really stepped up and said she wanted this fight right now. It speaks a lot to her. When the other girls want to come around and come into the big show they know where I'm at."
It appears that Cris Cyborg and her management team (aka Tito Ortiz) have finally realized they have zero negotiating leverage in this situation and they'll have to move down and face Rousey at Bantamweight.
It's possibly for the best that Rousey vs. Cyborg didn't end up being the first women's MMA bout in the UFC. As a rule, I strongly recommend putting on the biggest fight possible as soon as possible, but in this case I think it's safe to let the momentum build a little more.
This way we'll get to see if Rousey is a draw on her own or if she requires a mega-fight to sell pay-per-views. I've written before that I strongly believe Rousey should be used to headline UFC on Fox events rather than PPVs but apparently that is not the route the UFC wants to go.
Regardless, keep your fingers crossed WMMA fans, with Tito Ortiz involved, there are many many ways a potential Rousey vs Cyborg mega-fight could be botched.