Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate have final pleasantries before UFC 168 title fight
Mixed martial arts: Glendale-trained UFC women's champion, archrival say they're motivated, emotionally ready for Saturday's co-main event.
UFC champion Ronda Rousey is looking forward to defending her MMA championship on Saturday. (Raul Roa/File Photo)
With UFC 168 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas headlined by middleweight champion Chris Weidman’s rematch against Anderson Silva and those two taking center stage, along with the always entertaining Josh Barnett stealing the show, Rousey and Tate very much stuck to their guns without a whole lot of histrionics accompanying them.
Rousey (7-0), who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club under lead trainer Edmond Tarverdyan, said she is “reinvigorated” as it relates to fighting following the filming of “The Expendables 3” and “Fast and Furious 7,” with her hectic schedule and the doubts of her properly preparing for a rematch against Tate (13-4) serving as further motivation.
“I feel great for this fight. It’s been a long layoff between the two [fights] and I’ve really been able to reinvigorate my enthusiasm,” said Rousey, who defeated Liz Carmouche in February via first-round armbar in the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bout, which also served as the first-ever UFC women’s bantamweight title fight. “Even though it’s complicated and it’s crazy and it takes a lot of energy, that’s the environment where I really thrive.
“I couldn’t have been more excited to start up camp again. This is where I belong; this is where I feel right.”
And the craziness that was her schedule and the doubt that accompanied it served as necessary motivation to prepare for a rematch with an opponent she had already disposed of.
“I wanted to make it more difficult on myself,” Rousey said. “I want every single time that I have a fight coming up, there to be a reason for people to doubt me.”
As for Tate, after her Strikeforce championship loss to Rousey in March of 2012 via first-round armbar, she reiterated that the bad blood and trash talk leading up to the first bout affected her in a way that will not on Saturday evening.
“As much as this sport is physical, it’s more mental and emotional,” said Tate, who began the first bout with winging punches, later withstood a first armbar attempt from Rousey, but could not hold out on a second. “I think as a fighter, for me, I had to learn that the hard way.
“The mistake that I made was a physical mistake, but it was because I was out of my element emotionally and mentally. I think that now that I’ve corrected that, it won’t happen again.”
The combatants’ feud began back before their first encounter when Rousey dropped down from the 145-pound featherweight class in Strikeforce and proclaimed herself ready to take on Tate for her 135-pound title. Tate contended that Rousey didn’t deserve a title shot and had worked her way into the contender’s spot based on her good looks and ability on the microphone. Trash talk escalated into genuine animosity, but it also resulted in a monumental fight that UFC President Dana White has credited with being one of the reasons women are now fighting in the UFC’s octagon.
“If I had to go back, I would definitely do the same thing, cause I think that’s what really created so much interest for the fight the first time,” said Rousey, who coached opposite Tate on this past season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” “If we didn’t create that rivalry, I’m not sure if Dana and [UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta] would’ve been watching that fight in the first place. It’s because people were interested in it for some reason. For the time, I think it was definitely exactly what was needed. Everybody [in women’s mixed martial arts] was playing the Miss America card and, though they were great fights, nobody was really watching them. I think a spectacle had to be created at first.”
There’s no going back now, of course. Rousey is the biggest star in the burgeoning world of women’s MMA and Tate’s popularity has skyrocketed as the two move forward into their highly anticipated showdown on Saturday night live on pay-per-view.
But all the talk concluded on Thursday.
“I’ve been asked questions about Ronda for months on months and I think there was nothing worse than dealing with her on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ so a couple of interviews aren’t going to scare me away,” Tate said. “I’m here to fight.”