Ronda Rousey-Miesha Tate II has arrived
Mixed martial arts: Glendale Fighting Club's Ronda Rousey defends her title Saturday, with teammate Manny Gamburyan also on blockbuster card.
UFC champion Ronda Rousey, left, stands next top contender Miesha Tate. One will walk away a reigning MMA champion on Saturday night. (Raul Roa/File Photo)
When then-women’s MMA poster girl Gina Carano took on Cris Cyborg in 2009 or when Rousey defended the Ultimate Fighting Championships women’s bantamweight title against Liz Carmouche earlier this year, both bouts had plenty of hype and plenty on the line.
Thus far, though, the Rousey-Tate feud has been the defining rivalry as it relates to women’s MMA and it will come to a head once more Saturday night, as Glendale Fighting Club’s Rousey and archrival Tate square of inside the octagon’s caged confines for the UFC women’s bantamweight title in the co-main event of UFC 168 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It is a feud that dates back to 2012 in Strikeforce, was renewed and taken to another level during tapings for the past season’s “The Ultimate Fighter” and has subsequently involved both fighters’ camps, including Edmond Tarverdyan, Rousey’s lead cornerman, and Bryan Caraway, Tate’s boyfriend and corner.
For Tarverdyan and his stable, it’s a rivalry they’re looking to close the door on — emphatically.
“Ronda is a professional athlete. She knows exactly what she’s doing and she won’t be emotional in there. So, even with all the stuff that’s went on with [the opposing camps] and on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ that won’t affect her,” Tarverdyan said. “I want it to be past [us]. They’ve been going back and forth since the [first] title fight and [Tate] knows [Rousey’s] better. I just want Ronda to beat the s--- out of her and let’s be done with it.”
Rousey-Tate II, a scheduled five-round bout, is part of a blockbuster card that some predict to be the largest event in UFC history thanks in large to the main event: a UFC middleweight title rematch between titlist Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva, the former champion and arguably the finest MMA fighter of all-time.
“I think it’s the best fight card that’s ever been put together by the UFC,” Rousey said.
Also featured on the pay-per-view main card will be a heavyweight matchup between top-six-ranked heavyweights Travis Browne and Josh Barnett, a lightweight matchup of Jim Miller (No. 10 in UFC lightweight division) and Fabricio Camoes and a featherweight tilt between Dustin Poirier (No. 6) and Diego Brandao.
On the preliminary card, which airs live on Facebook for the first two bouts beginning at 3 p.m. and on Fox Sports 1 for the next five, notables such as Michael Johnson, Chris Leben and Uriah Hall will take to the octagon.
Glendale Fighting Club’s Manny Gamburyan (13-7) will also be in action, taking on seventh-ranked UFC featherweight Dennis Siver (21-9) in a three-round 145-pound bout that airs on Fox Sports 1. Thus, preparation for Saturday has made for a hectic training camp in Glendale.
“Busy, busy, busy,” Tarverdyan said.
However, though Tarverdyan admits UFC 168 will be a huge night for everyone involved, that hasn’t deterred any focus or altered any preparation.
“It’s great for everyone, it’s a huge event, but a fight is a fight,” Tarverdyan said. “It doesn’t matter where we’re fighting, a win’s a win.”
As it relates to Rousey (7-0), many are prognosticating another victory as the 9-1 odds in her favor attest. Rousey, a former two-time United States Olympian in judo and bronze medalist, has defeated all of her opponents via armbar submission in the first round, including Tate (13-4). Tate, on a conference call leading up to the bout, said she isn’t in awe or intimidated by Rousey and her resume, however.
“I think a lot of people build Ronda up to be this invincible person and that there's no way that she can be beaten. But I don't see it that way at all. I see a lot of holes in her game and I see a lot of ways that she can be exploited,” Tate said. “Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't ever happen, you know what I mean? And I'm going to do something different on the 28th than anybody else has done.”
Tate showcases a celebrated wrestling background, hence her prior “Takedown” moniker, though she now goes by “Cupcake.” However, she doesn’t plan on being an easy win for Rousey this time around.
Tate holds key wins over notables Jan Finney, Elaina Maxwell, Zoila Frausto Gurgel, Hitomi Akano, Marloes Coenen and Julie Kedzie.
The victory over Coenen, which came via fourth-round arm-triangle submission in July of 2011, garnered Tate the Strikeforce women’s 135-pound title, which Rousey wrested from her in Tate’s following fight.