LOS ANGELES — Training camp is done, lunch was served and the main course awaited a little more than a week away.
Ahead of the blockbuster UFC 175 pay-per-view on July 5 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey sat down at a UFC media luncheon Friday afternoon before moving on to Vegas with her sister’s wedding and a championship bout against No. 2 contender Alexis Davis on the agenda.
“She’s actually getting married at the Mandalay, so that’s kinda convenient,” Rousey smiled.
Rousey’s sister is set to say her vows Saturday, while the undefeated UFC women’s bantamweight champion will square off with Davis exactly a week later in the co-main event of UFC 175, which is headlined by middleweight champion Chris Weidman’s defense against Lyoto Machida, who was also on hand Friday.
Following the last day of her training camp at the Glendale Fighting Club on Thursday, Rousey (9-0) was as confident and raring to go for her fight with Davis (16-5).
“I’m ready. I could fight right now,” Rousey said. “From the day I start camp, I’m ready to fight. Right after I walk out of the cage, I’m ready to have another one.”
Rousey will fight for the fourth time under the UFC banner — and third time in roughly six months — and will do so against an opponent in Davis who is the only other female fighter to go 3-0 in the UFC. Still, as the 27-year-old Rousey has laid to waste each and every prior opponent, never allowing a foe to go the distance, Davis, 29, is a sizable underdog. For Rousey, a former United States Olympic bronze medalist in judo, that makes no matter.
“I was always taught that no one is easy until after you beat them and Alexis is the one I haven’t beat yet,” Rousey said. “She’s one of the most experienced fighters I’ve ever come up against. She’s definitely the most well-rounded; I’ve always fought people that were either predominantly a striker or predominantly a grappler.”
Though her championship showdown looms on the docket, as is seemingly always the case when Rousey sits down with a cavalcade of reporters, questions were continuously posed as to what’s next, whether it be her burgeoning Hollywood career or possible future bouts. However, Rousey was quick to dispel any notions about looking beyond her impending title defense.
“All I care about is beating Alexis on July 5th,” she said.
Rousey is set to appear in three upcoming films — “The Expendables 3,” “Fast and Furious 7” and “Entourage” — but has always been adamant that her budding on-screen stardom didn’t interfere with her training or fighting and it hasn’t yet, as evidenced by her third-round submission win over rival Miesha Tate at UFC 168 in December of last year and her first-round technical knockout of Sara McMann in February.
“When I’m in fight camp, I focus on fight camp and I don’t have to worry about going around and promoting a movie. That’s the only real consideration I had to make from one career to another,” said Rousey, who will begin promotion for “Expendables 3’s” mid-August premiere after the Davis bout. “This has actually been the smoothest and easiest fight that I’ve had in a while. UFC 168, I started my six-week camp right after filming, pretty much 10 weeks straight. And then, 170, it was the fastest successful title defense ever. I filmed ‘Entourage’ since, but that was all in L.A., it was at home, so it wasn’t like I had to go anywhere. I was training the whole time. I just wanted to fight. ... I don’t like sitting on the shelf.”
Thus, while cause for distraction is abundant, Rousey was adamant that, just as she has with every other fight, the July 5 bout is one she’s readily prepared to take on.
“I take these girls much more seriously than they can possibly take me,” she said. “It might not seem like that, because the Vegas odds might have me as a favorite, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t take them seriously. That’s why I train harder than any of these other girls do and why I’m better prepared than any of them are, because I take them so seriously that I do more — always “
As to why she takes her opponents more seriously than they do?
“I want it more, it’s more important to me than it is them,” Rousey said. “I think a lot of these chicks, they think it would be nice to be champion. But once you start doing the build-up and the work that comes with being the champion, a lot of people realize this isn’t the lifestyle for them. I kinda wonder, I think that could’ve been what happened to Sara McMann. I don’t think she really wanted what came along with being the UFC champion. She did literally zero media for the whole thing, because she felt like the media would interfere with her training. Well, I feel like the media needs to be part of your training. When it comes down to it, when it comes down to the day when you’re fighting, you could’ve avoided all the cameras all that you want, but they’re in there in the locker room with you and they’re in your face while you’re walking out and they’re filming you while you’re fighting. And so, if all the preparation you’ve done has had no cameras involved, then when they are involved, you’re not gonna be the same. A lot of people aren’t gonna want that and they’re not ready for it and they won’t enjoy that and I think deep down they don’t really want it.”
No matter how arduously Rousey maintains her focus, questions still persist about future bouts, just as much as they do her Hollywood career.
On Friday, she was asked if she has cleaned out the women’s 135-pound division.
“I still think there’s a lot of interesting fights,” Rousey said. “There’s still [injured No. 1 contender] Cat [Zingano]. And I’m interested to see how this fight between [GFC teammate] Shayna Baszler and Bethe [Correia] goes.”
She was asked about her dream opponent?
“It’s no secret,” Rousey said. “I always wished I could fight Gina [Carano]. Whether she ever wants to fight again is completely up to her.
“But, ever since that day when I had that first taste of women's MMA, she's the fight I wanted.”
And, as is seemingly always a hot topic, she was pressed about her legacy and fighting Invicta Fighting Championships 145-pound champion Cris Cyborg.
“I would never lose sleep at night over Cris Cyborg in any situation,” Rousey said. “If she wants to come and get her ass beat, she knows where I'm at. She knows where I'm at, but she's not making any effort to get there.”
Shortly thereafter, Rousey once again clarified, “I don’t really want to starting thinking too much about the future. I know there’s enough to keep me busy for the time being.”
Hence, while there’s plenty of fodder for interruption and many may well be looking past Davis, Rousey is not one of them.
“I always felt like she was really underestimated,” Rousey said. “I always thought that she was a really serious contender.
“I think that she definitely deserves it and I’m glad we’re having this fight now.”
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Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.