As we reported earlier today, Ronda Rousey's first title defense against Sarah Kaufman at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman this past Saturday, turned in the best numbers Showtime's MMA programming has seen in 2012. UFC President Dana White, whose company owns Strikeforce, is not being shy about his excitement over Rousey's emergence as a star.
He was on the Dave and Mahoney Show on X107.5 today and openly talked up the possibility of a pay-per-view featuring Rousey vs. former Strikeforce 145lb women's champ Cris "Cyborg" Santos. Here's what host Dave Farra tweeted:
Dana White: Yes, I could see— Dave Farra (@DaveFarra) August 21, 2012
@rondarousey vs. Cyborg as a co-main or main event for a @ufc pay per view. Rousey is incredible.
This is very exciting. There are just two possible snags:
Cris Cyborg doesn't want to fight at 135lbs and she overestimates her leverage
As she told MMA Junkie:"I get many questions about Ronda Rousey, and I would like to set the record straight for the last time, as I do not consider her much personally, much less as a fighter. She claims she is the champion and openly challenges me to fight at 135 pounds, which I find laughable. She competed in the Beijing Olympics at 154 pounds and fought at 145 pounds in MMA until she learned she would have to fight me and then dropped to 135 pounds.
"I have never fought below 145 pounds, and I am considered the pound-for-pound top woman fighter in the world. I have yet to lose a fight while holding the Strikeforce 145-pound title. My last fight was considered a no contest, but that has not changed the fact that I am the women's 145-pound champion."
I'm only going to point out that Cyborg was stripped of her title after failing a post-fight drug test after her last bout in 2011. Ok, I'll also point out that Cyborg tried holding out for more money after beating Gina Carano and didn't seem to understand that stars get paid, opponents get nada.
I don't expect Cyborg to seriously hold up the fight but she's shown a remarkable lack of understanding of the realities of the business and I expect she'll make it more difficult than she needs to.
Showtime will want a piece of the pie
This is the real hurdle the fight will face. If there is a Rousey vs Cyborg PPV, it won't be a UFC PPV unless they find a way to pay-off Strikeforce. And the network doesn't need cash. It needs ratings or a firm commitment from Zuffa that they won't just kill Strikeforce before the Showtime deal expires.
Unfortunately the UFC has burned Showtime too many times in the past (pulling Alistair Overeem, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson and the HW tournament champ Daniel Cormier away from SF) for there to be much trust in that relationship.
Those are significant hurdles between Dana White and putting Rousey vs Cyborg on PPV, but clearing hurdles is what the man does. I'm looking forward to seeing how this gets worked out and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will result in better opportunities for Strikeforce's talented roster of non-stars like Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza who deserve better than to be trapped in an MMA netherworld.