Ronda Rousey to defend title against Alexis Davis, not Gina Carano, at UFC 175

Ronda Rousey (left) defends her UFC women's bantamweight title against Alexis Davis on July 5 at UFC 175.

Ronda Rousey has her next opponent and it’s not Gina Carano.

Rousey will defend her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Alexis Davis at UFC 175 on July 5, UFC president Dana White tweeted Friday night. That fight will likely be the co-main event of a card already headlined by a middleweight title bout between champion Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida. With Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva also facing off, the UFC’s annual Fourth of July weekend card looks pretty stacked.

White was scheduled to meet with Carano on Wednesday to discuss her MMA comeback. Both White and Rousey said Wednesday at a media luncheon in Los Angeles that Carano deserved a title shot for her work as a women’s MMA pioneer despite her being out of action for five years, which only fueled speculation that the fight would be Rousey-Carano.

Apparently, the meeting didn’t go well or Carano wouldn’t be ready to fight in July. So, Davis, who is 3-0 in the UFC and coming off a split decision win over Jessica Eye at UFC 170 on Feb. 22, will get the shot.

It’s also curious that it’s Davis and not Cat Zingano fighting Rousey. Zingano seemed to be the rightful No. 1 contender after beating Miesha Tate last year. But then Zingano tore her ACL and her husband died over the winter. Her manager, Ed Soares, said she would be ready to return to the Octagon for a fight with Rousey by June.

Rousey (9-0) is still undefeated in MMA with eight first-round stoppages. She’s coming off a TKO of Sara McMann at UFC 170 on Feb. 22. Arguably the UFC’s biggest star, Rousey, 27, has been cast in multiple movie roles and is a mainstream media darling.

Davis (16-5) has won five straight fights. The 29-year-old Canadian isn’t known to most casual fans, because of her understated personality and technical fighting style, but she’s No. 3 in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight contender rankings and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

As for Carano, she hasn’t fought since 2009, a loss to Cris Cyborg, while focusing on her movie career. Her film "In The Blood" opened last week, amid a ton of speculation that she would be returning to MMA.

The former Strikeforce star still might and she still could fight for the title against Rousey. It just won’t be in July.