-- Each week, ESPN.com writer and MMA Live Extra analyst Brett Okamoto provides his take on the hottest topics in the world of mixed martial arts.
This week, Okamoto squares off with UFC strawweight Paige VanZant to debate the latest news and trends. VanZant, 21, is unbeaten in two UFC bouts and returns to the Octagon on Sept. 5 when she meets Alex Chambers at UFC 191 in Las Vegas.
Paige VanZant: Nothing against Miesha, but I definitely think Holly deserves the shot. I think Amanda Nunes deserves a shot as well. If you look at it, Ronda is fighting every undefeated challenger [ Sara McMann, Cat Zingano, Bethe Correia, Holm]. After this fight, I think Amanda Nunes makes sense, then maybe Miesha again. It's hard to say if Holly is ready for this, because how ready can someone really be for Ronda Rousey? Obviously, Holly has an extensive boxing background. She has experience -- maybe not in the UFC, but how many bantamweight fights have there even been in the UFC? It's a relatively new division, so we're going to see fighters with only a few UFC fights pushed quickly.
Brett Okamoto: It depends how you define "the right fight." From a business angle, I believe it's the right fight. I hear all the time, "It doesn't matter who Rousey fights; she'll sell the same number of pay-per-view because she's the draw." I don't completely agree with this. Yes, Rousey has a high floor -- meaning she can fight literally anyone and the fight will sell well -- but the right opponent can still bump up that number, and Holm's boxing background is going to be a very easy sell. As popular as Tate is, I actually think Holm will sell better as a Rousey opponent right now. If you move away from the business side of things, then no, this wasn't the right fight to make. It's too soon for Holm and actually does a disservice to her by rushing her in there. Tate is most deserving -- and if not her, then Nunes.
2. Will the Rousey-Holm fight last one minute?
VanZant: I really hope it does. I'm a huge fan of Ronda, and I want to see her fight more. I think I'm disappointed in a sense when it only lasts 34 seconds or 14 seconds because I don't get to see her fight longer. Her fights aren't losing appeal though. To me, they are just, "Holy cow, she did it again." I think it's funny we make bets not on what round she'll finish a fight but how many seconds she'll finish it in.
Okamoto: Yes. For the first time since February 2014, a Rousey fight will last longer than one minute. Holm is a big bantamweight and plays a distance game very well. I could see Rousey being slightly more cautious than usual. While her fight against Correia was a 34-second blowout, Rousey walked into some decent punches in that amount of time. I wouldn't really say Holm has legitimate one-punch knockout power -- her strength is more in volume -- but even so, maybe Rousey won't come forward quite as aggressive. The fight ends as soon as it touches the mat though, so I don't think it makes the second round. But I'll give Holm at least one minute.
3. After getting leapfrogged by Holm for the title shot, who should Tate fight next ?
VanZant: Everyone was saying Amanda Nunes deserves a title shot, [so] maybe she and Miesha should fight. I would definitely want to see that fight. With [ Cris "Cyborg" Justino], the new anti-doping policy doesn't allow IV [rehydration]. I've never had to use it, but I know with that big of a weight cut, "Cyborg" would need severe rehydration. I think with that rule implemented, she won't be able to make the cut to 135 pounds healthy enough to be prepared. If she makes it, she'll be too depleted to even put up a fight. I just don't see that fight happening. Ronda is a champion and doesn't need to chase anybody. She doesn't need to go up and fight anyone in a catchweight, and I just don't think "Cyborg" can come down.
Okamoto: My vote would be Justino at a catchweight of 140 pounds. I hear what VanZant is saying about the cut to 135 pounds, and I've actually been saying now for a while that I don't think Justino can make it. But I think she has to make a real try to show everyone she can't make it, so why not start off with a cut-down to 140 pounds for a fight in the UFC? It doesn't make sense to have Justino continue to fight in Invicta. Invicta provides great opportunities for certain female fighters, but Justino is far, far too big for that promotion. She should be fighting in the UFC. If Tate it willing to meet her at 140 pounds, that's an outstanding, highly marketable fight. I think it's more likely that Tate fights Nunes, though.
VanZant: I honestly don't know. Their first fight was so close. Joanna definitely has confidence going in. She has had experience; she has been champion for a little while now. She's winning fights so she has confidence. But I know Claudia wants it. I think it will be an exciting fight. And I get asked a lot about my age and experience, but for me, I don't feel like I'm doing anything weird or different. This is exactly the place I wanted to be at this point, and I am definitely looking at Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha as opponents. At the same time, everybody asks me if I want a title shot after my next fight. I'm going to take my time. Everyone knows I'm 21. I'm young. I want to make this journey last. I'm going to continue to fight whoever the UFC puts in front of me, and when it's my time to hold the belt, it will happen.
Okamoto: Jedrzejczyk, ever so slightly. The difference in that first fight -- which was only eight months ago -- was arguably one uppercut by Jedrzejczyk that knocked Gadelha down in the first round. Without that one punch, Gadelha probably wins that decision. I think Jedrzejczyk grew so much from that fight, though. Her takedown defense just looks impenetrable right now. Gadelha's striking looked great in her recent win against Jessica Aguilar, but I still give a pretty significant advantage in that department to Jedrzejczyk. It's very close though. Both are very capable of winning.
5. What's your reaction to UFC lightweight Frankie Perez's decision to retire from MMA at age 26, immediately after his first UFC win on Sunday ?
VanZant: I respect him for it. I definitely plan on having a family, and I don't know if I would put them through this. If I had kids and a husband -- it's a hard, hard life. When you're a fighter, you love it, so the fact he was able to step away and realize it was hindering his family, you have to respect him for that. I see fighters in my own gym getting knocked out in training and all of a sudden, guys are getting concussions. We just had one fighter retire and another one is going through rehab for brain trauma. [Perez] is healthy right now; he doesn't have brain trauma; he doesn't have any of those things. Do what's best for your family. The only person who gives me a little bit of grief about this is my grandpa. He's old-fashioned. He thinks I should be going to school, but I put him in his place.
Okamoto: If you read my UFC Fight Night Report Card, you already know that I loved this. You occasionally see it in the NFL, as well, and I love it there, too. And not to sell Perez short at all -- we don't know what this guy would have accomplished had he continued his career -- but it's likely he wouldn't have made a fortune fighting in the UFC. Perez says he runs a DJ business and clothing line in New Jersey. He said he didn't want to put his body or his family through more than he already has. If this guy fulfilled his dream of winning a UFC fight and has other (far safer) ways of providing for himself, then by all means, man, walk away. Go out on a high, knocking out a veteran in Sam Stout in the first round. Hang on to that memory (and the brain cells that make that possible).