UFC 196 was a tumultuous night that shook up several weight classes and left many large fights in a state of limbo. You’ve got the Nate Diaz win over Conor McGregor sending reverberations through the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight divisions. And then Miesha Tate’s shocking submission win over champion Holly Holm blew the women’s bantamweight division wide open.
Holm was originally slated to fight Ronda Rousey until Rousey took a step back from fighting to concentrate on her Hollywood career. A fight with Tate was set up instead, and now the belt Holly took off Ronda is in Miesha’s hands. What does that mean for Ronda’s return?
Dana White didn’t beat around the bush or delay his response. In an interview on ESPN immediately after the event, he confirmed that Ronda was next for Miesha Tate.
“I think that Ronda now will face Miesha Tate for the title,” he said. “That’s what’s going to happen. That’s what I said before this fight even happened: whoever wins tonight will fight Ronda for the title.”
“Ronda wasn’t watching the fight,” White continued. As we reported, she was at an indy pro wrestling event instead. “I text Ronda and she said ‘What happened?’ and I said ‘Miesha just choked her unconscious.’ And she said ‘Well, it looks like I gotta get back to work.’ I don’t know what that means … if that means acting or fighting!”
“She’s scheduled to not come back until October or November, but it doesn’t mean I can’t ask. Ronda Rousey has worked very hard for this company for three and a half years. Believe me, she did anything that was asked of her and went above and beyond the call of duty. And if she wants to stay out until October, I’ll let her do that.”
While Holm’s loss to Tate will undoubtedly hurt pay per view numbers when the eventual Rousey rematch happens, it may be a boon that brings Ronda back to the UFC sooner than originally expected. Rousey holds two dominating wins over Tate, so she may be much more willing to juggle her other responsibilities while fighting the scrappy wrestler than she would against Holm.
She may also be learning that Hollywood is a fickle industry that will push back a movie’s shooting again and again without notice. After dealing with projects changing course or being completely cancelled, the desire to punch someone in the face again may be getting pretty strong for the competitive athlete. And she does love to punch Miesha Tate in the face. The two have a fierce rivalry spanning nearly five years that started after Miesha questioned Ronda’s worthiness to fight for her Strikeforce title. Ronda paid her back for those comments by breaking her elbow backwards in an armbar.
As of this moment there’s been no official word from Rousey, who has been pretty scarce on social media since her loss to Holm in November. But if what Dana White is saying is true, it sounds like there’s a chance Ronda may return to the cage for UFC 200. We’ll keep you informed as the story develops.