Sunday, July 6, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Dana White kissed Ronda Rousey on the cheek after imparting a few words as she made her way out of the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.
The pair were just out of earshot of the media after the UFC 175 post-fight press conference, but it wasn’t difficult to imagine the topic and White’s message.
The UFC president was probably apologizing to the women’s bantamweight champion. Nearly two hours after Rousey knocked out Alexis Davis in 16 seconds, White still fumed over someone in the production truck instructing announcer Joe Rogan to ask the champion whether she could fight again in less than a month.
“It’s so mind-boggling that I don’t even want to think about it because I don’t want to be mad,” White said. “I’m having a great weekend.”
By all accounts, 2014 International Fight Week has gone just as the UFC envisioned. UFC 175 drew a $4.4 million gate and 10,088 fans to witness Chris Weidman beating Lyoto Machida in a potential Fight of the Year and Rousey continuing her dominance.
The one negative peck, to White, was giving the impression that the promotion wanted Rousey to turn back around and headline UFC 176 on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles. The planned main event for the card, a rematch between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes, fell through earlier this week when the featherweight champion came down with an injury.
Rousey expected to get asked about making the fast turnaround — just not in the immediate aftermath of beating Davis.
“It didn’t seem very characteristic of the company when I got put on the spot,” Rousey said. “To be honest, I was very surprised.”
So was White. He immediately started shaking his head in the octagon and approached Rogan and appeared to chastise the messenger.
White can’t fathom where someone on his staff came up with the idea. He said sliding Rousey into the next pay-per-view was never even discussed.
“Apparently the producer had somebody in mind,” White quipped. “He had a fight planned out for her apparently.”
The producer must have the answers the rest of the mixed martial arts world is looking for because there’s a concern about who’s out there for Rousey at the moment. The former Olympic judoka looks like she’s in a category of her own.
Davis was the only other female fighter in the UFC with three wins, and Rousey smashed her like an ant. Rousey wobbled Davis with an overhand right, kneed her to the body and judo-tossed her to the ground almost immediately.
If Davis wasn’t already unconscious upon hitting the mat, Rousey made sure of it with several ground-and-pound punches. After starting her professional career with eight straight armbars, Rousey has now taken out two consecutive opponents on the feet.
“I felt like if I wanted to be a complete mixed martial artist, I had to immerse myself in the striking game and make that a strength instead of something I was trying to avoid,” Rousey said. “It’s catching up, but I still have a lot of work to do.”
Despite the rapid nature of the fight, Rousey did not come out unscathed.
She reopened a cut in her right index finger that required nine stitches post-fight. A lingering right knee issue also flared up this week and will require minor surgery.
“It’s something I need to get taken care of,” Rousey said. “I can’t put it off forever. I’d rather do it now or else it’ll just keep getting worse.”
Before the UFC 176 discussion, Rousey figured it was an ideal time to address the ailments. That’s because only three fighters are expected to have a shot at booking the next fight against Rousey, and none of them will be ready in short order.
Neither Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, the second-best women’s fighter in the world, nor Gina Carano, the local women’s MMA trailblazer who has transitioned into Hollywood, is even currently signed with the UFC. Undefeated top contender Cat Zingano is still overcoming an ACL tear and grieving the death of her husband. She’s not expected back until September at the earliest.
Rousey wants to fight them all eventually.
“I want to retire undefeated and be known as one of the greatest of all time,” Rousey said. “That takes a lot more work than what I’ve done so far.”
White hopes Rousey, whose own movie career is taking off with three credits to her name in the past year, is a long way from stepping away. After UFC 175, he talked about how Rousey is not only important to the promotion but to the women’s sports world in general.
“This is a chick who could walk out of this building, walk down the Las Vegas Strip and wreck every guy on the Las Vegas Strip,” White said. “There’s never been a woman in the history of the world that could do that.”
There’s no doubt that Rousey is capable of strapping on the gloves again in less than a month and putting on a terrific performance. But White found it an unfair request, particularly while Rousey was still celebrating beating Davis.
He went on to deflect any questions about UFC 176’s future. Rousey almost certainly won’t fill in on the next pay-per-view, but she also didn’t completely rule out the remote possibility.
“I’m down to fight at any time, but I just want to be healthy,” Rousey said. “I can as soon as I’m physically able.”