Late last year, UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey was in the midst of preparing for the biggest fight of her life when she got offered yet another fight. In three week's time, "Rowdy" Ronda would defend her title against bitter rival Miesha Tate in the co-main event of UFC 168.
The title rematch was years in the making, with much bad blood. As such, Ronda was obviously singularly focused on fighting Tate three weeks before the bout.
It was, in fact, the hardest week of her training camp - with much tough sparring. For whatever reason, that's precisely when UFC president Dana White called Rousey up personally and asked her if she would consider fighting another opponent just weeks after rematching Tate, at UFC 170.
Rousey agreed and that's why White was able to promptly announce that she would face fellow Olympian Sara McMann Feb. 22 in the main event of UFC 170 minutes after UFC 168 had ended last December at the post-event press conference.
"I didn't find out at the press conference I found out three weeks before the Miesha fight. It's like the hardest week of camp," Ronda remembers while speaking with media on a conference call recently.
"Dana calls me up and says 'yo, can you fight at the end of February?' I was like, 'honestly, if you need me to do it, I will do it for you.' But, at the moment, I was thinking about Miesha and I was in my hardest sparring of the week and I don't even want to think about another fight that soon.
"At the press conference, ayer the Miesha fight, I mean, I was pretty much so amped up...I was super excited to get back in there. You're in a little bit different mindset when you're in the hardest week of camp as opposed to right after the last fight and you're ready to jump right back in it again."
Rousey may have been initially reluctant to look past Tate and fight in one of the quickest turn arounds for a UFC champion in history when White first called but a short talk with her coach Edmond Tarverdyan got her psyched up. Rousey says she told White that she was open to the fight but first had to consult with Tarverdyan before committing.
According to the fighter, the outspoken head coach sent her back to White with a simple message.
"'You call Dana back and you tell him we'll fuck up any bitch he wants in February,'" Rousey remembers Tarverdyan telling her.
"I was like, 'alright!' So I called Dana back and gave him that exact quote and he was pretty stoked about it."
Fighting twice in just eight weeks may be extreme but Rousey says that she rarely takes much time out of the gym after competition, anyway. "It's weird. After every fight I have a problem - I get back into the gym too quick," Rousey says.
"Like, it will be two days after the fight and I'll be back in the gym and my coach will be like, 'what are you doing here? Go home.'"
Compared to her usual two days off, Rousey took a long vacation from the gym this time around. "I actually took five days off this time," she says.
Rousey may be one of the UFC's biggest stars and earners, but the former Judo Olympic bronze medalist is also still a gym rat. More magazine covers and movie stardom may be in Rousey's future, but she still sticks with the formula that got her to where she is - non-stop hard work.
"I can't stay out of the gym," she says.
"I realize that I have nothing else to do...you have two seconds on the couch and you realize you have nothing else to do and there's nowhere else you'd rather be than at the gym."
If Rousey was rushed into her latest title defense, her opponent Sara McMann would have had plenty of time to rest and prepare in anticipation. The undefeated former Olympic wrestling silver medalist has not fought for nearly ten months.
Rousey knows she'll have her hands full with another world-class athlete at UFC 170 in just over a week. This win may not come so easy for the champion, but she believes her hard work still makes it inevitable and she's up for the challenge.
"[McMann is] the biggest challenge I've had to date," Rousey says.
"I'm really looking forward to it."
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