This Saturday night (July 5, 2014), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweight gold will be on the line when Ronda Rousey meets Alexis Davis in the co-main event of UFC 175, airing live at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view (PPV) from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Dominant champion Rousey has never looked better. She picked up her first-ever knockout win by defeating Sara McMann in the main event of February's UFC 170, adding to her previous armbar finishes of archrival Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche in her other two Octagon appearances at UFC 168 and 157, respectively.
A pioneer for the women's side of the sport, Rousey is arguably the biggest star in all of mixed martial arts (MMA). She's a fighting champion who is willing to take on all comers, and she'll face the only other woman to win three UFC bouts in Davis.
No. 2-ranked "Ally-Gator" was also last seen at UFC 170, where she defeated rising star Jessica Eye via split decision. The talented veteran may not be a huge star just yet, but she's fought and beat some of the best female fighters the sport has to offer. With a five fight win streak intact, Davis could just be Rousey's toughest test yet.
But they've said that about some of her previous opponents, and they all got finished like the rest. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Rousey vs. Davis:
Record: 9-0 overall, 3-0 UFC
Key Wins: Miesha Tate (UFC 168, Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey), Sara McMann (UFC 170), Liz Carmouche (UFC 157), Sarah Kaufman (Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: At this point in time, Rousey appeals nearly unstoppable as she occupies a realm that's a step above the rest of her competition. It's going to be like that until she gets dethroned (or at least seriously threatened), and that could take quite awhile.
Her Olympic medal-winning judo, and more specifically, her lethal armbar, will always be a threat to anyone she steps into the Octagon with.
It's the first thing her opponents should be preparing for. She's finished every single one of her fights except her win over McMann with her go-to move, and it wouldn't be surprising to see her do it against Davis.
But her striking has also progressed to a new level under the tutelage of boxing coach Edmond Tarverdyan, and that's a scary thought for her division as a whole.
Rousey also maintains a laser-sharp focus and competitive drive that just isn't equaled. "Rowdy" will push an aggressive pace from the opening bell looking for the finish. She's a warrior, and now she has many more ways than just one to stop her opponents.
Davis has only been finished twice, and both were technical knockouts. That fact won't stop Rousey from going for her trademark finishing move on her quest to prove she can best all female Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors.
Record: 16-5 overall, 3-0 UFC
Key Wins: Jessica Eye (UFC 170), Liz Carmouche (UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3"), Rosi Sexton (UFC 161), Shayna Baszler (Invicta 4)
Key Losses: Sarah Kaufman (Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey, UCW 7: Anarchy), Shayna Baszler (Freestyle Cagefighting 40)
Keys to Victory: Davis is a well-rounded competitor who brings her own set of polished grappling skills to the Octagon. She has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and also Japanese ju-jitsu, and she's parlayed them into seven submission victories inside the cage.
Obviously she's never faced a mat technician even close to the level of Rousey, so Davis will have to show up at the absolute top of her best game if and when this fight hits the mat. She should have more experience than Rousey's other opponents in terms of defending armbars, and that should give her a leg up in Las Vegas.
If Davis finds herself in the clinch against Rousey, she's most likely going for a ride. Much of her success will ride on how she's able to recover from Rousey's throws. If she can come out on top in a scramble or two and land some punches, there could be chance to score some points, but it will definitely be easier said than done.
Like Rousey, Davis' striking has apparently been catching up to her ground skills as of late, as she exhibited some excellent kickboxing in recent wins over Eye and Carmouche.
However, she still only has two knockout finishes on her record, and might not last all that long with Rousey in a pure firefight.
"Rowdy" has a relentless, in-your-face striking style designed to end fights quickly and in brutal fashion, while Davis's striking is more of a point fighting style.
Because of that, "Ally-Gator" should look to keep Rousey on the outside with her jab in an attempt to hopefully disrupt Rousey's pending onslaught. If she can, the potential for a momentous upset could arise.
Bottom Line from Las Vegas: The bottom line for this fight is that it's billed as simply another showcase for Rousey to dominate another opponent.
But no other woman has had as much success in the Octagon as Davis, which means she provides the stiffest challenge to "Rowdy's" title, at least on paper. If Rousey does as expected and runs through another opponent, she's talked about taking a break from fighting after nearly four years of nonstop training.
She also has four huge movie roles to promote, meaning that some time off from the cage is inevitable for the champion. With former top draws Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre on the shelf, that's not a good thing for the UFC.
On the other hand, however, an unlikely Davis win would breathe new life into the division. With each passing finish by Rousey, fans will begin to wonder if the UFC women's division is even close to deep enough to support a dominant champion like her, and indeed she is running out of legitimate contenders.
The deck is stacked against Davis, but the same could be said for pretty much every woman save for "Cyborg." Davis is no slouch in her own right, but she just may be dealing with the best female fighter to ever compete in MMA.
With Rousey's star beginning to shine bright outside of fighting, UFC 175 may be one of the last few times we get to witness her compete, so enjoy the fight.
Ronda Rousey will go for her fourth UFC title defense against the streaking Alexis Davis at UFC 175. Will it be another lopsided victory for Rousey, or can ‘Ally-Gator' somehow take a bite out of ‘Rowdy?'