There were no surprises when Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey took the arm of Sarah Kaufman, forcing the Canadian to tap, just 54 seconds into the first round of their fight Saturday night in San Diego. The victory was Rousey's sixth first-round submission finish in six professional fights.
The questions must now be asked: Who will Rousey fight next?
Immediately following the fight, Rousey called out former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cris Cyborg Santos, who is currently serving a 12-month suspension after testing positive for an anabolic steroid following a first-round stoppage of Hiroko Yamanaka in December of 2011.
“I need to send out a challenge to Ms. Cyborg,” Rousey said after the Kaufman fight. “People want to see you have the first fair fight of your life. I'm the champ now. The champ doesn't go to you; you go to the champ. Come down to 135 (pounds) and let's settle this.”
Cyborg is allowed to return to the cage in 2013, which is good timing for a fight with Rousey, but would Cyborg be able to cut the extra weight in order to make bantamweight with Rousey stating she wants the fight at 135 pounds? Rousey doesn't seem to care if she can or not.
“I don't owe Cyborg anything,” exclaimed Rousey at the post-fight press conference. “She needs to fight me more than I need to fight her.”
“That's the fight we have on our radar,” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, confirming the bout is of interest to the promotion. “When it will happen is unknown, but we will start having that conversation when Cyborg returns from suspension.
“Once we get the fight together, it will break all television and gate records.”
Although Cyborg threw a bit of wrench in the works on that fight, exploding in a perplexing rant on Twitter following Rousey's victory, saying that she was awaiting her release from Strikeforce.
Another opponent that could be on the fringe for Rousey is Gina Carano. Carano last fought in 2009, which was a loss to Cyborg, but has occasionally expressed interest in a return to the cage since then. She has been busy chasing her dreams in Hollywood during that time, however, so if she is to return to the Strikeforce cage, a tune-up fight would likely be in order before being thrown immediately back into the deep end against Rousey.
“If I was to pick which one I would actually want to beat up, I would want to beat up Cris Cyborg the most,” Rousey said recently about who she would rather fight between Cyborg and Carano. “I would want just want a win over Gina. She’s a cool chick. I have so much respect for her.”
Coker was also asked about a possible Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey rematch, since Tate won her fight against Julie Kedzie on Saturday night's preliminary portion of the fight card. Coker wouldn't commit to that being in the works, but it could be a moot point as Tate, the former bantamweight champion, stated that she didn't feel like she had done enough to earn another title shot yet.
“I don't feel my performance was contention worthy,” said Tate. “I'm not going to ask for a rematch. I'd like a few more fights. I need a better performance then that.”
Rousey would like some time off before making a decision on her next fight anyway, so Strikeforce has some time to try and work things out.
“I like to take a week off after fights and fall off the map,” said Rousey before adding, “We have some cool plans. I'd like to go to Thailand.”
So what's next for Ronda Rousey is far from being answered… outside of a little vacation.
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- Ronda Rousey