Despite being dominated by Ronda Rousey’s ongoing feud with Bethe Correia, the UFC’s women’s bantamweight championship bout will not be the only fight on the card.
In fact, the pay-per-view card will consist of six other bouts—many of which lack the sort of star power fight fans often use to praise the Joe Silva’s and the UFC’s capacity of putting together events with big names.
That said, enough drama still exists before Saturday’s event. Let us take a look a few of the main storylines as we head into Saturday’s event at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
End of the Line for Pride Legends?
Mauricio Shogun Rua first entered the Octagon at UFC 76 in 2007. Like many Pride fighters before him, he was the mythical fighter from beyond the way, spending most of his illustrious fighting career in front of tens of thousands of fans in Japan.
He’d fought the who’s who of mixed martial artists outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship during a time when a good portion of the world’s best showcased their talents away from the Octagon.
But as Japan’s massive MMA circuit started coming to a close, Rua and dozens of other elite-level fighters took their talents stateside—several of whom signed a contract with Dana White and the Fertittas.
Rua, along with the Noguiera brothers will step into the UFC’s eight-sided cage Saturday night in what can arguably the last time for at least one of them.
Outsiders may look at Shogun’s mere 33 years of age and wonder how such a young fighter—one currently ranked eighth in the light heavyweight division—could be closing in on retirement. Rua’s been in the professional fight game for nearly 13 years now, coming of age while biting down on a mouthpiece and swinging leather with bad intentions. He’s had his fair share of glory, followed recently by a plateful of defeat.
Rua’s 1-4 in his last five fights—having been finished in three of those affairs. He’s no longer the fighter he once was.
His opponent, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is in similar waters: a seasoned fighter with a lot of tread on his tires. Sure, he’s had a bit more “success” than his UFC 190 opponent, but forcing the referee to pull you off of a past-his-prime Tito Ortiz and earning a decision against an uncharacteristically unmotivated Rashad Evans don’t negate the fact that he’s a 39-year-old fighter who just got knocked out in devastating fashion. Prior to the two victories, Little Nog didn’t look very impressive, either—dropping unanimous decisions against two on-the-cusp wrestlers.
Then there’s the bigger of the Nogueiras facing far bigger problems: Antonio Rodrigo. Last time out, Big Nog survived all three minutes before getting knocked out by Roy Nelson. The five fights prior to that didn’t go very well for him either, suffering three one-sided losses. He had his arm broken once, and was forced to tap in another. He was no longer the most feared man on the mat.
Unless Big Nog wins and Shogun-Little Nog goes to a draw, one of these guys needs to have “the talk” with Dana White.
Who Cashes in on Chance to Meet Joanna Champion?
The pay-per-view’s opening act is set to provide the MMA world with a new challenger for one of the UFC’s budding stars, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Long overshadowed by some of the prime-time talents housed at Nova Uniao, Claudia Gadelha returns to the cage after dropping a close decision to the current champion last December. Standing across from her Saturday night will be Jessica Aguilar—World Series of Fighting’s former champion at 115 pounds.
Aguilar hasn’t lost a fight since dropping a split decision to Zoila Frausto at Bellator 31 in 2010. Since then, she’s capped off 10-straight victories, previously cementing herself as one of the better talents not signed to the UFC.
She’s currently ranked 15th in the division, but Aguilar’s record likely has White and Co. thinking a victory over the first-ranked Gadelha would be enough to rocket her into a title fight with Jedrzejczyk in just her second UFC outing.
Either matchup is relatively appealing; especially considering how close Gadelha’s first crack was and what sort of novelty Aguilar brings in fighting a champion running past all her title challengers.
Does Correia Really Stand a Chance?
An overwhelming amount of the discussions regarding UFC 190’s main event revolve less around the outcome, and more around time.
The odds, experts and fans tell us Rousey’s primed to walk out of the HSBC Arena with her belt firmly secured around her waist. What they wonder, however, is how long Correia will last once the referee gives them the green light to step into the center of the cage.
Alexis Davis, the division’s third-ranked fighter lasted just 16 seconds.
Cat Zingano, the division’s second-ranked fighter couldn’t even do that, lasting only 14 seconds in February.
Miesha Tate, Rousey’s toughest opponent to date—by virtue of time in the cage—was dominated for two full rounds before getting caught in an armbar for the second time in less than two years. She lasted 10 minutes and 58 seconds.
And that’s how the story’s gone for Rousey’s opponents so far. It’s not about how well they’ve done on the feet, or how well they’ve dealt with her armbar attacks. It’s a matter of how long they’ve “lasted” in the cage with the most dominant fighter in the history of women’s combat sports.
That said, MMA can sometimes provide for the unthinkable.
This isn’t Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Cleveland Browns for four quarters on a Sunday morning. MMA is overtime every time. One slip from Richard Sherman and an otherwise covered Andrew Hawkins goes 70 yards downfield for six, winning the game for the lesser team.
Like all of Rousey’s opponents before her, Correia stands a chance. A very, very slim chance.