Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Brent Brookhouse explains that there are completely valid reasons why UFC cross-divisional 'superfights' don't happen. And that Ronda Rousey vs. Cyborg Santos has plenty of clear reasons why it just might not ever take place.
MMA fans are not known for their ability to participate in reserved, calm discussion about matters with even the slightest hint of controversy. So, it's not entirely surprising that every failed attempt to make a "superfight" happen in the UFC eventually results in a sort of war between which fighter is ducking the other and why and how Fighter A knows Fighter B would beat them so they're not willing to move up a weight class or down a weight class or making monetary demands or demanding the fight take place on their home turf..etc.
Rousey looked good at 145 pounds early in her MMA career, but she clearly looked like someone who would be a better fit at 135. And that is exactly how her career has played out, with her becoming the face of women's MMA and leading the charge into the UFC on the back of an almost impossible to duplicate combination of talent and good looks.
Cyborg was always huge even for 145. That's not really something all that likely to change post-positive steroid test. Recent photos still show her still looking quite large. The idea of her cutting to 135 and retaining all her functional strength and stamina seems unlikely, regardless of what someone like Mike Dolce says.
Cyborg was on Instagram yesterday saying:
I am not afraid of Rhonda! I will fight her anywhere and anytime for free - everyone knows I barely make 145- but I am willing to sacrifice and meet her half way at 140- I can't believe dana says I want nothing to do with Rhonda- what he wants me to do is fight Rhonda with both my hands tied behind my back or comatosed-so that she can have a chance-which is what making me fight at 135 is- to finally shut everyone up - i will fight Rhonda with one hand tied behind my Back at 140lb and still kick her ass and prove that I'm the real champ not her- and let the winner take ALL come on rhonda step up bitch!
But 140 might not be good enough, with Dana White having taken to UFC Tonight on Tuesday and making it sound like 135 is the only place the fight can take place, as well as accusing Cyborg of ducking the fight:
"[Bantamweight] is the only division we have," White said. "It's been real interesting. You know, I've been in the fight game since I was 19 years old and I've been doing this for 15 years and what I get out of this deal with Cyborg is that she wants nothing to do with Ronda Rousey. She does not want to fight Ronda Rousey.
Sometimes fights just don't happen. If Cyborg and her team don't feel that she can safely make 135 or even that she might be able to make it but wouldn't be able to perform well, that isn't cowardice, that's a valid reason to not do it. 140 is a fair compromise, but if the UFC doesn't want to already be holding fights outside of a 135 pound division they're just now establishing, that's a valid reason for them to say no. And Ronda obviously isn't going to go up to 145.
In boxing, which has a longer history of top level fighters changing weight classes, we regularly see that someone moving up or down five or seven pounds has a profound impact on their abilities. They might gain or lose speed or power or stamina. Or the cut might leave them just physically wrecked. So the idea of it "only being ten pounds" really doesn't make sense.
This might just be a case where two fighters and the promotion which would hold the event simply can't make things work for entirely valid reasons.
Just because a fight could be held should someone involved make a massive sacrifice and fight at what they feel would be a disadvantage does not mean the fight should be held.
It's a logic that MMA fans would be well served to hold on to in terms of every "superfight." The UFC has only had one cross-divisional "superfight" in recent memory with St. Pierre vs. Penn 2 -- Aldo vs. Edgar is not, no matter how much they say it, a superfight by any standard definition -- while fights like Rousey/Cyborg, St. Pierre/Silva, Silva/Jones have all been cases where weight classes separate fighters and keep fights from happening.
The reasons why this is the case are clear, even if it means the resulting discussions aren't as fun. But at least we can stop with the forced "will they, won't they" stuff.