Challenger wants another first-round finish, but says she has trained for ‘a five-round war’
Strikeforce is calling the match-up between Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey the biggest fight in women’s MMA since 2009. The hype leading up to the fight has been deep and the war of words between the two women has been intense.
Tate, the champion, says her opponent doesn’t deserve a title shot – something Rousey strongly disagrees with.
“I feel like I’ve earned my way into this fight,” Rousey said. “Everyone says the people I’ve beaten were chumps or something, (but) Julia Budd was the only person to ever beat Gina Carano in a Muay Thai fight. She was a national kickboxing champion. Charmaine Tweet is a world(-ranked) Muay Thai (fighter). The first girl I fought, Ediene Gomez, was 6-1 coming out of (American Top Team). It was my first professional fight, and I had nine stitches in my foot.
“When I’m getting ready to fight these opponents, people say they are going to be able to do something and after I beat them, people say they were chumps. They were good fighters, and if I’m making them look that they are not on my level, then put me in there with people on the highest level and see how it goes.
“If I was a guy and saying the exact same things, they would call me normal,” Rousey said. “It’s because I’m the opposite of what they expect a woman to be. They expect a woman that is an athlete to be really butch. Or they expect women in general to be soft spoken. I’m not what the industry standard for a woman is. I think that’s why everyone thinks what I say and do is so appalling. That’s fine with me because I’m good with making people uncomfortable. It’s an innovation in marketing that works. No one wants to see the same thing all the time.”
Due in large part to Rousey’s ability to launch memorable quotes and top-notch trash talk, the fight, the main event of Saturday's Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey card in Columbus, Ohio, is receiving more attention than is usually given to a women’s MMA bout. With her profile on a sudden rise, Rousey credits the people around her for keeping her humble. But the newfound spotlight has produced some memorable moments.
“I had a life changing-moment, which I’m sure happens to every celebrity at some point,” Rousey said. “I was recognized at Whole Foods. When you walk into Whole Foods and wonder if there is someone famous there – that was me this time. I had that 'Walking Dead' feeling where I was wondering if I had a zombie behind me, but they were like, ‘Are you Ronda?’ and it was cool.
“Everyone is so concerned with me getting a big ego, but when I go home they keep me in check. They always tell me the things I need to work on, and when I’m home I’m surrounded by a very good group of people. I keep myself separate from the people who would tell me I’m awesome all of the time and the group of people I have keep me grounded.”
Rousey's time in the cage has been minimal, but her highlight reel is fierce. An Olympic medalist in Judo, Rousey brings power and aggression, and with the odds having her a heavy favorite, it appears to be a skill set people don’t believe Tate will be able to handle. Rather than rest on assumptions, Rousey uses the worst-case scenario to prepare herself.
“Every time I visualize the fight, it’s different,” Rousey said. “I don’t expect to come out a certain way, and I visualize this matchup all day long. If you see me spacing out, I’m probably thinking about this fight. I have to envision every possible scenario in my head so if I do get in that position with Miesha, it will feel like I’ve been there before. I don’t know what to expect. but I’ve played it out in my mind as many times as possible.
“Fights are crazy and chaotic. People can expect all they want, but I expect the worst-case scenario all the time. I expect it to be a five-round war where I could be behind every single second of the fight and I’ll have to fight back at the end to win it. That’s what I’ve prepared for. I would rather have what I don’t need than need what I don’t have. Of course, I’m always going to aim for a first-round finish. I’m always going to take the first opening I see and then the second, third and fourth. I will constantly keep trying to take advantage of the openings for myself – but I’m always prepared for the worst."
At the end, Rousey wanted it known she came to Columbus in March for just one purpose.
“I’m getting that belt. I’m not here for the weather.”