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UFC 190: 'Rousey vs. Correia' a fun squash match, but unworthy of PPV price tag

Esther Lin

Ronda Rousey, UFC women's bantamweight champion and belle of the mixed martial arts (MMA) ball, is defending her 135-pound title against stocky-and-cocky division No. 1 contender Bethe Correia in the UFC 190 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this Saturday night (Aug. 1, 2015) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But you knew that already.

Just like you already knew that Correia is a massive underdog heading into this weekend's big shebang. It's not often you see a fighter with a perfect record (9-0), particularly one coming off a violent, technical knockout win her last time out, sitting at +1100 in the betting lines.

Rousey's dominance as UFC champion is partly to blame.

That said, there is a reason Correia reached triple digits in the sportsbooks when "Rowdy's" previous four opponents hovered around the +500 range, and that's because this match up is a complete joke. We can't even use the tried, true, and oft-flimsy defense of "Well, on paper..."

This pairing is just as embarrassing on paper as it's expected to be in real life this Saturday night in Rio.

I've seen a lot of online finger pointing regarding who and what's to blame. The prevailing wisdom holds the division accountable, as there just doesn't seem to be enough viable contenders to keep the assembly line moving -- though I'm not sure we can blame the promotion for its thinning catalog of warm bodies.

"UFC needs more female bantamweights," the experts will tell you.

Okay ... where are they? Any 135-pounder worth her salt is already signed to ZUFFA. Cristiane Justino is a featherweight until she can prove otherwise and even when she does, it's going to take at least one fight to establish what her skill level is without an extra 10 pounds of muscle.

Until then, this is what we have to work with.

You can blame Holly Holm for that. "The Preacher's Daughter" was signed to UFC -- even after promotion president Dana White tried to exile her -- because Lorenzo Fertitta someone with a clearer vision knew that a decorated boxing champion with a venomous arsenal of strikes would make a fine trophy for the queen of the bantamweights.

And in the event of an upset, a suitable replacement.

But the Albuquerque import failed to impress in her Octagon debut, barely squeaking past Raquel Pennington at UFC 184 last February. "Rocky" is a gritty but unremarkable talent, yet durable enough to establish that Holm needed a little more time under the lamps.

That opened the door for Correia.

To her credit, "The Pitbull" held up her end of the bargain by winning, though I have a hard time accepting that any fighter in the women's bantamweight division is worthy of a crack at the crown if they haven't first defeated either Miesha Tate or fellow ex-No. 1 contender Cat Zingano.

Heck, I'm not even convinced the Brazilian would have gotten past Sara McMann.

A part of me wonders if she knew that as well, and decided to strike while the iron was hot (it works). If there's one thing we know about Rousey -- aside from the reality that she's a monster inside the Octagon -- it's that her buttons are easily pushed (sample).

Even more so when it comes to her friends and family.

And so Correia put Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler in time out, which is kind of like the combat sports equivalent of putting Baby in the corner, then gloated about it, loudly enough for the leader of the "Four Horsewomen" to hear her and take the bait.

From there, Rousey did all the heavy lifting.

Having the champion demand a fight makes it easy for UFC marketers matchmakers to overlook the fact that Correia has just two finishes in nine wins. Of her three opponents -- a combined 1-7 under the ZUFFA banner -- the first retired, the second was cut, and the third?

Hard to imagine she's not put out to pasture after yet another loss.

So there's your UFC 190 headliner. The challenger enters the cage without any wins over a current top-15 bantamweight against a champion who finished her last two opponents in less than 30 seconds.

Hey, I love a good squash match as much as the next Just Bleed'r, but that type of beating -- on a card littered with ho-hum match ups -- plays better when dropping anchor in a non-heavy co-main event, or as a featured fight on FOX.

But for $60?

That's asking a lot and may explain why this fight card will get seven televised PPV bouts instead of the usual five. Unfortunately, all that does is punish east coast fans who already have to stay up way past the stroke of midnight on a regular basis.

Sorry, I do love watching Rousey compete, but I think I'll wait for the next one.

Oh wait...