Will Holly Holm Fight Cris Cyborg If Ronda Rousey Won’t Step Up?

Getty Images / Invicta FC

Holly Holm’s management is already making contingency plans in case Ronda Rousey doesn’t return to the UFC to rematch her. In an article from the LA Times, Holm’s manager Lenny Fresquez reveals that they’ve already offered to fight longtime Rousey nemesis and Invicta 145-pound champ Cris Cyborg at a 140-pound catchweight. The UFC never got back to him with a firm response.

What to do with Cris Cyborg has been a longstanding issue for the UFC. They don’t have a women’s 145-pound division and have no plans to add one anytime soon. But Cyborg is one of the biggest names in women’s mixed martial arts and was the only fighter many felt could challenge Ronda Rousey … until Holly Holm defeated her with a massive headkick back in November of last year.

Holm isn’t big enough of a superstar to pull Rousey numbers off her own name, so she needs opponents with draw. Currently, her matchup with Miesha Tate on March 5 hasn’t gotten a lot of notice, with the Conor McGregor fight at the top of the card sucking up all the oxygen. So, if a fight with Ronda doesn’t look likely for 2016, it’s no surprise Holm would pivot to Cris Cyborg and try to establish herself in her own right.

Holm’s manager Fresquez didn’t mince words, saying he felt highly skeptical that Ronda Rousey really wanted to rematch his client.

“That’s my theory. I hope I’m wrong. I haven’t been wrong yet,” he told the LA Times. “That’s why I offered the [Cyborg] fight at 140. We’d take that fight if Ronda needs more time to make up her mind.”

That puts the UFC — and Ronda — into an interesting spot. The UFC wants Holm undefeated for an eventual Rousey rematch, and Cyborg is no slouch. Plus it wouldn’t look that great if Holm takes the fight at 140 without a fuss after Rousey spent years insisting Cyborg drop to 135.

But if Ronda is nowhere closer to confirming a hard date for return by the time UFC 200 rolls around, the promotion may prefer to bet on a sure thing rather than a hypothetical rematch.