Opinion: Apply the Ronda Rousey Rule to Cyborg

By Andreas Hale May 18, 2016

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

The long awaited arrival of Cris Cyborg in the Ultimate Fighting Championship finally took place at UFC 198 and was every ounce of brilliant destruction we expected it to be.

Now what?

It’s evident that Cyborg is almost physically unable to make 135 and still be able to compete. She looked like a skeleton at the UFC 198 weigh ins and hit the scale at 139 pounds for a 140 pound catchweight bout. Those a little more ignorant to weight cutting will say: “it’s only four pounds!” But those four pounds are potentially a health risk, especially when you consider that there has been much conversation about ending drastic weight cutting for the sake of a fighter’s health.

It’s clear that having Cyborg in the UFC would be big for the company. She’s a menacing wrecking ball of talent in women’s mixed martial arts where knockout finishes aren’t the norm. Consider the following: she has 14 knockouts in her MMA career. That’s more than Holly Holm (7), Miesha Tate (3) and Ronda Rousey (3)…combined. Of those 14 knockouts, nine have come in the first round. That’s a level of excitement that has certainly been missing. But, of course, the problem is what the hell will the UFC do with Cyborg? If she can’t make 135, will she just fight in relatively meaningless catchweight bouts while periodically heading back to Invicta to defend her featherweight title?

That feels like a waste of everyone’s times.

Instead, what I’d like to call “The Ronda Rousey Rule” should be deployed and the featherweight division should be introduced with Cyborg leading the charge as the inaugural featherweight champion.

It wasn’t too long ago that the UFC brought women’s MMA into the fold because of one woman. And that ended up being a rousing success for the company as we’ve seen some wildly entertaining battles. The same thing should be put in place simply because the world needs to see more Cyborg.

Of course, there will be a lot of discussion regarding the shallowness of the women’s featherweight division. But the UFC could use the excitement that Cyborg brings to the table and the lack of formidable talent in the featherweight division shouldn’t be the reason why she won’t be able to compete in the UFC. After all, shallow divisions are something that just about every class goes through at one point or another.

Right now, there’s nobody more dominant in his division than Demetrious Johnson and the UFC had to essentially put together a worldwide search for competition on the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” It wasn’t too long ago that Rousey seemingly had run roughshod over the entire women’s banatamweight division to the point where she was being called the most dominant athlete in all of sports. If you go back a little further, it appeared there would never, ever be a middleweight who could challenge Anderson Silva. But, alas, somebody eventually comes along to be competition. In the interim, Cyborg could fight catchweight bouts or find some of the talent at 135 making the leap to featherweight.

Sooner or later, there will be a woman who takes Cyborg’s spot. That much is inevitable. Until then, we should be able to enjoy Cyborg while she’s active. And if that means laying waste to a bunch of women the general public hasn’t heard of, so be it. She’s going to have to fight anyway, so why not see her demolitions on a major platform?

No, she may not have the crossover appeal of Rousey, but Cyborg is easily the most devastating fighter in women’s MMA. More than any fighter outside of Rousey (who may not be here that much longer), Cyborg is can’t miss TV whenever she fights. Unfortunately, she was easy to miss because she wasn’t on TV. But the world was talking about Cyborg’s UFC debut and fight fans are now salivating over the possibility of seeing more of this wrecking machine. And the UFC likes money, right? Introducing the women’s featherweight appears to be the only way to keep Cyborg in the mix.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Andreas Hale is the editorial content director of 2DopeBoyz.com, co-host of the boxing, MMA and pro wrestling podcast “The Corner” and a regular columnist for Sherdog.com. You can follow on Twitter for his random yet educated thoughts on combat sports, music, film and popular culture.
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