Ronda Rousey is far from Miesha Tate's favorite person. Rousey took the Strikeforce bantamweight title from Tate in March and has gone on to become one of mixed martial arts' brightest stars.
But though there is much about Rousey that galls Tate, she does get some sense of fulfillment every time Rousey's name appears in a headline or her star shines brighter.
Tate figures that without her, Rousey would be nowhere near the kind of household name she's become in the last six months.
"Before she took that fight [with me], Ronda was fighting on Showtime Challengers, on undercards, barely noticed," Tate said. "The fight between her and I is really what put her on the map globally and she's carried that momentum to where she's at now.
"Who would she have fought? Who else would have made such a big fight? [Cris] Cyborg [Santos] was out on suspension. Ronda was dropping a weight class. Who would have put her on the map like that? Who else would have made that main event sell? Who could have put on the women's fight of the year with her? It was her and I."
And, as Tate said, it was one of the best bouts of the year, male or female. Rousey, a bronze medalist in judo in the 2008 Olympics, caught Tate in an arm bar early in the fight, but Tate escaped. Later, Rousey got her in it again and, eventually, forced Tate to tap.
The fight proved that Rousey was more than just a pretty face; she could fight at the highest level.
Rousey has gone one to become one of the sport's biggest stars and was the feature of a two-part preview series on Showtime to promote her title defense Saturday in San Diego against Sarah Kaufman.
Despite her impressive record and role in putting on an exceptional match, Tate is fighting in obscurity. She meets Julie Kedzie on Saturday's preliminary card, a decision that doesn't sit particularly well with her.
"People are kind of sleeping on this fight, including Showtime and Strikeforce," Tate said. "Personally, I feel it's a little bit insulting. Basically, they've taken a former world champion and stick her on the undercard just because I've lost one fight. I was on a six-fight winning streak and I have a huge fan base of my own.
"I think I do a great job promoting myself and my fights. For them to put me on the undercard, and have some of the guys they have on the main card, who I know they don't have quite as much of a following as I do, it kind of makes me wonder why they would do that. The only thing I can come up with is that they were scared to have two female fights featured on the main card. That's something they've never done before and I think it boils versus female."
Tate is one of the sport's most exciting fighters, as she proved not only against Rousey but in numerous other bouts, including her title-winning effort against Marloes Coenen.
She is convinced women's fighting still hasn't been fully embraced, by the television executives, the promoters or the fan base, and that's why she's been, in essence, shunted aside.
"Fighting in general, society looks at it as something men do, not women," Tate said. "Women aren't given nearly as much credit and have to do way more to prove themselves."
She's right about that. That was proven by the way her fight with Rousey was promoted. It clearly was about looks, essentially saying to the young male fan base that dominates MMA, "Hey look, here are a couple of hot chicks who are going to be all sweaty and rolling around on the ground."
It was effective – it outdrew several male-headlined Strikeforce shows on Showtime – but it wasn't the way that men's fights are promoted.
When has the UFC ever promoted by Georges St. Pierre, for instance, by focusing so much on his looks? Never.
Tate, though, willingly took part and for that, she has to accept some of the blame.
She's a very insightful, thoughtful person and pondered the decision long and hard before agreeing.
"When you market that there are two pretty women fighting, sometimes you gain viewers you wouldn't have originally gotten," Tate said. "We know, in that case, they're tuning in for the wrong reason, but we hope they leave with the right reason in their heads. That was the overall goal of my fight with Ronda.
"The idea was, 'Hey, there are these two beautiful women, but they're serious athletes and serious fighters and they can really throw down.' Strikeforce tried to play off that and we got a lot of views and a lot of fans who may have originally tuned in, like I said, for the wrong reasons, because there were two hot chicks fighting. But they left saying, 'Damn, those girls could probably kick my ass,' and that they would make a point to watch women's MMA regardless because of the show we put on."
Tate says she's "proud to be an empowered woman" and that "fighting is a big part of who I am." It's clear she's a serious athlete who understands her job and its significance in her life and in the overall picture.
She loves to fight and says, "I'm a powerful woman," but concedes she has what she calls "my domestic side." She doesn't see pushing her femininity as being in conflict with her professional side.
Despite all she did, though, she didn't get the kind of bump from the Rousey fight that Rousey did. Tate's fighting in a low-profile fight off TV, which makes her realize how much farther the sport has to go.
Like much of the MMA fan base, she'll keep a close eye on the main event. She's friends with Kaufman and notes she has "some unfinished business with Sarah" after losing to Kaufman in 2009.
But Tate wouldn't be upset if Rousey beat her friend, because Tate wants to be the one to knock Rousey off first. Though Rousey defeated her, Tate believes Rousey is vulnerable.
When it was suggested to her that sounded like sour grapes, and Brock Lesnar won his UFC heavyweight title in his fourth fight, Tate was ready with a response.
She quickly shifted to hyping a rematch even though each have other fights to worry about first.
"Look at what happened to Brock Lesnar," she said. "He had great wrestling, but he wasn't a well-rounded fighter. They put so much into him, but that was dangerous because he wasn't very one-dimensional. He became a laughingstock because he didn't have that overall MMA game. Guys figured him out and they were all beating him.
"I think Ronda is similar and personally, I don't think a champion should be so one-dimensional. She has almost non-existent striking. Her judo is obviously excellent and her submissions are good, but a champion needs to have the total package and she doesn't. I hope she wins her fight Saturday, not because of anything against Sarah, but selfishly, I want to be the first one to beat her, to humble her. Sooner or later, everyone is going to figure her out, and I want to be the one to show how."
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- Martial Arts
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- Ronda Rousey
- Miesha Tate