Fresh off her win over rival Miesha Tate last month at UFC 168, UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey met with her next opponent, fellow Olympian Sara McMann, and reporters recently. Rousey had neither harsh words nor glares for her opponent as they joked and prepared for photos to be taken.
Once it was time to square up opposite one another and pose for photographers, however, Rousey got her familiar game face on and up between her raised arms and fists as she looked directly at McMann. The message was clear - Rousey may not have a personal grudge against her next opponent as she did with Tate, but she understands that they will fight and fighting is a solemn thing.
Rousey told assembled media that she hopes that her career, and women's MMA on the whole, has moved past needing bad blood between two female opponents in order for fans to take an interest.
"Then, it was kind of like a necessary evil," Ronda explained.
"Now, I feel like women's MMA is at a point where it's not needed. So, I don't really have to partake anymore even if someone is, like, starting a fight with me. It's very lucrative for the other girls so even if they try to start with me now, I really don't have to oblige anymore. Yeah, so, Miesha's probably the last person I'll engage in that type of way."
When asked about how much difference there is between training for a fight against someone you dislike versus someone you respect, Ronda replied that there isn't much a difference, before going on to describe all the ways in which her last camp for Tate was, in fact, a bit different.
"I really don't think that there's much of a difference in how you train," Rousey said.
Then, the champion paused and smiled when describing "one difference," being how her trainer Edmond Tarverdyan thought to tape a photo of Tate on his body protector for Rousey to hit during training. Rousey also said that her coach admitted to her after the fight that he intentionally aggravated her before sparring sessions so that she could get used to fighting smart, despite being upset.
"It was very smart though," Rousey said with a laugh of her coach's methods.
"You do see someone's face who you distinctly don't like and it does bring certain emotions out of you. So, it did sort of re-create those emotions I had for her while I was doing mitt work. To re-create those emotions while you're training, I think, my mom always refers to Thorndike's law of transfer...the more similar your practice situation is, the more it will transfer over to what you're actually training for."
Though Rousey doesn't harbor any personal ill-will for her next opponent, McMann, the Judoka says she fully expects fans to continue to boo her as they began to at UFC 168 against Tate. She'll be perfectly happy if they do.
Rousey says that she never tried to put on the appearance of a "nice girl," and relishes being the villain to McMann's cheery hero.
"I've never acted like a nice, sweet, young, American girl!" Rousey exclaimed with a smile.
"My first walkout song was 'Sex and violence.'[laughs]...I always wanted to be the heel. I'm sure people are still going to boo me...that's fine. That's the way it is. It's like I said, 'Saint McMann.' They're gonna love her."