The biggest night in MMA history is in the books, and the main event of UFC 200 big questions about the women’s bantamweight division.
Amanda Nunes stopped Miesha Tate by rear-naked choke to shock the MMA world and win the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship at UFC 200.
Nunes, previously ranked number four in the world, stunned the champion with sharp strikes and stuffed all of her take-downs.
It became clear early that Tate was not prepared to handle Nunes power and was done long before the challenger took her back and sank the rear-naked choke.
With the victory, “The Lioness” becomes the fourth bantamweight champion in the divisions history and the first Brazilian woman to hold the belt.
Shortly after the fight, questions began to revolve around who the next challenger in line should be. As it inevitably always does, the conversation turned to Ronda Rousey.
The transcendent former champion has not been seen in action since 2015 when she was brutally knocked out by Holly Holm in November.
Since then, Rousey has expressed a discontent with the media, stating that she feels she has made herself “too available” in the past.
This year, the most that she has been seen in the public eye has been as a host of Saturday Night Live and a guest appearance on Ellen where she made the startling comments that she experienced thoughts of suicide following her loss.
For Nunes, or any woman for that matter, a fight with Rousey is the biggest and most profitable match up to be made.
That said, there is no indication that Rousey is any closer to fighting this year. In an interview on Fox Sports 1 following UFC 200, UFC President Dana White stated he would like Rousey to fight in 2016 but said early 2017 is still likely.
The bantamweight division is experiencing a renaissance in 2016. Without it’s biggest attraction, fans and fighters alike have had to move on from the idea of Rousey more and more each time a fight for her former title is contested.
The number of characters at the top has become more convoluted since she left. Amanda Nunes now reigns supreme after MMA’s biggest night. Contenders such as Tate and Holm are still at the front of the line for another shot.
There is also now the specter of Cris “Cyborg” Justino who competed in the UFC for the first time in May at a catchweight of 140 pounds.
While “Cyborg” competing at 135 has not happened, the possibility of a super fight with the Invicta 145 pound champion is the biggest match-up to be made outside of Rousey.
But, the more time Rousey spends away from the cage, the more fans seem to be feeling different about her.
Her recent commercial for Bud Light, where Rousey halts Seth Rogan’s inquiry about her return, is almost awkward to watch. Seriously Ronda, when are you gonna fight again?
The women’s bantamweight division, for it’s short history, has never been healthier. More shocking, it has reached this point in the absence of Rousey.
UFC 200 brought to light a surprising fact: Amanda Nunes has a line of contenders she could face next. And Rousey may be the least of them by the time she returns.