While it’s hard to argue against the suggestion that Ronda Rousey’s professional MMA resume lacks real depth, claiming that the overall level of Conor McGregor’s opposition has been poor seems more than a little unfair.
Yet, that’s exactly what UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino did when she was asked to identify the UFC’s two most over-hyped fighters during an interview on the Domenick Nati Show.
“I think you see already Ronda Rousey,” began Justino. “Everyone thinks she is the best fight ever, ever pound for pound, and then you see when she fight real fighters, she has a hard time(via MMAMania).”
It was easy to get caught up in the buzz surrounding Rousey when she was the UFC women’s bantamweight champion and finishing one challenger after another in a matter of seconds a couple of years back, but it now seems likely that history will remember her more for that buzz and for her star-power, which helped to popularize and legitimize women’s MMA, than for her exploits inside the octagon. Only her wins against Miesha Tate really stand up to scrutiny, while she was beaten brutally and comprehensively by the two biggest names that she fought, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
McGregor, on the other hand, has logged wins over Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier, Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez since arriving in the UFC back in 2013, becoming the first man to hold UFC titles in two weight classes simultaneously along the way.
Yet, Cyborg still went on to claim that the reigning UFC lightweight champion has never fought a single “tough” foe.
“And then, maybe McGregor. He’s never seen fighting one guy who’s tough,” Justino stated, before suggesting one reasonable future opponent for McGregor and another utterly bizarre one. “I would like to see him fight Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and fight Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. And McGregor has a big name but you don’t know, we don’t see him in a real fight, with tough guys in MMA.”
“I don’t like it when you put everything in the sport on just two persons,” she added. “Because when they lose, then people get no interesting. You need to promote all the fighters. Like, let’s no promote women’s MMA, only the face Ronda Rousey. You can no do this because now she retires. Now people are interested in only her. You have to promote all the girls. All the girls make the sport great.”
“Same thing with McGregor. All the guys make up men’s MMA, but they just push the face. Ronda retires, or no retire, she take a break. McGregor only wants to come back when he can win. And this is not helping the sport growing.”
A fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov is a definite possibility down the line. UFC president Dana White today confirmed that Khabib will face interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 223 in April. If the Russian manages to overcome Ferguson, the calls for a McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov fight will become deafening.
If, however, Cyborg is waiting for McGregor to fight 38-year-old former Strikeforce middleweight champion and current UFC middleweight contender before she considers the Irishman legitimate, she will continue to wait, and wait, and wait.