Who Takes It? Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano at UFC 184

This week’s edition of “Who Takes It?” looks at the greatest rivalry among two women under the UFC banner; a rivalry which is about to finally get settled tomorrow night at UFC 184.

Years ago, two heated rivals, neither of which has suffered a loss in MMA competition, were supposed to fight, but circumstances kept them apart.

Now they stand facing off, with no more time for words and the world watching — and, we can’t wait.

I mean of course, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and her bitter rival, Arianny Celeste.

Well, no.

I actually mean Rousey vs. Cat Zingano.

(But for the record, I’m Team Arianny on that one. Sure Rousey’s right that fighters don’t get paid enough. But why lash out at a ring card gal about it? Calm down, Ms. Rousey…)

Cat Zingano earned the right to fight longtime champion Rousey back in April 2013, when she defeated Miesha Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. But an injury, then a personal tragedy kept her out of competition for almost a year and a half.

Her victory over Amanda Nunes last September brought her back on top of the rankings, improved her MMA record to 9-0, and scored her another shot at the gold.

Meanwhile, Rousey has been her typically dominant self, turning back the challenges of old rival Tate (who went on to replace the injured Zingano), Alexis Davis, and Sara McMann.

A quick visit to BestFightOdds.com reveals that Rousey is a startling ten to one favorite in some online betting systems.

Still, some say Zingano is the one to dethrone Rousey. Our own Matt Griffith spoke about the fight on the last MMA Nuts episode; he’s expecting a long battle where Zingano’s unusual strength is key.

I’d like to agree. Everyone loves a comeback story and Zingano’s has already been a great one. To keep it going with a victory over MMA’s most dominant champion would be spectacular. Maybe we’re hungry for a little shake-up, too.

Unfortunately, I just don’t think she’s on Rousey’s level.

Looking through Zingano’s history as a fighter leaves me a little cold. That 2013 TKO victory over Miesha Tate is Zingano’s signature win — but looking back, how impressive was it?

Zingano was taken down repeatedly by Tate, who also scored some strong punching combinations early in the bout. Zingano was dominated on the mat, mounted, and only narrowly escaped a Tate armbar. She needed a rally to earn the victory, as Tate tired unexpectedly.

Zingano has obvious grit — she also had to come from behind to defeat Amanda Nunes, who scored an early takedown and nearly stopped her with ground-and-pound. She has shown she can do damage in the clinch and top control.

But then, watch Rousey easily toss Tate at every clinch in their bouts, and try to imagine Zingano hitting the suplex on that turned the Nunes bout around.

For that matter, watch Rousey blaze past Alexis Davis, and recall that Davis TKO’ed Nunes a few years back.

Maybe it’s not a mismatch on par with Rousey’s bout with Davis. The UFC scrambled to put together highlight videos to hype the bout — ending up with unconvincing material, like Davis’ nearly securing a triangle choke.

But it’s a match which is Rousey’s to lose. Look for her to have the edge standing and grappling — eventually getting the position she wants to take the armbar she loves.

I’ll call it Rousey, round one armbar.

Watch for Zingano to continue her MMA career as one of the best of the rest, and Rousey to hopefully get a little bit of that chip off her shoulder — and maybe even stop calling out ring card gals.

As always, enjoy the fights!