MMA fans should start marking their calendars for July 9, 2016.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White said on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) that bantamweight titleholder Holly Holm will first face Ronda Rousey in a rematch before entertaining other challengers, according to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s Rousey,” White told the Times on Holm’s next opponent, with a date set for July 9 in UFC 200 at the new arena in Las Vegas.
“Ronda is the fiercest competitor I have ever met in my life and she’s also very proud,” White said. “What made the world love Ronda is that Ronda absolutely 100 percent knew she was not going to lose. … People rallied around this powerful female figure.”
“She got clipped, stayed in there and tried to fight through it. She told me she was in there, she was rocked, and she’d never been rocked like that before. And the things that were going on in her head – what she was doing – she’d never been in that situation.”
The Times reported that UFC officials on Tuesday offered a proposal of the rematch to Holm’s manager, Lenny Fresquez, who expressed concern that Rousey might not be ready following her second-round knockout loss last November 14 in Australia.
“I’m not sure Ronda will be ready for a July fight,” Fresquez said. “She took a severe beating and I don’t think it’s in her best interest to take the next fight so fast. They told me she’s been ready and cleared, but…”
In the interim, Fresquez said he would prefer Holm to defend her against Miesha Tate, the No.1 contender.
“We’re from the old school and we believe the No. 1 contender is there for a reason. … (Tate) deserves a shot, but it’s not for me to decide,” Fresquez said, noting the decision is up to the UFC.
White is optimistic with Rousey’s ability to bounce back from her stunning knockout and that he is in constant communication with the MMA star, talking “every day, seven times a day.”
“Ronda’s never lost a fight. She will overcome it and be back.”