LOS ANGELES — Ronda Rousey will defend her UFC women's bantamweight title Saturday night in Las Vegas against Ontario's Alexis Davis, who is a testament to the powers of Canadian politeness. Davis can kick butt in the cage, but she isn't the one to go to if you're looking for trash talk or hype.
It was a similar story back in February, when Rousey carried the promotional workload for her UFC 170 title defense against an equally nice and well-mannered Sara McMann.
The way Rousey sees things, it's simply a part of the job.
"I think a lot of these chicks, they think it would be nice to be champion," said Rousey, who meets Davis in the co-feature bout of UFC 175. "But, once you start doing the buildup and the work that comes with being a champion, a lot of people realize that this isn't the lifestyle for them."
Indeed, making the rounds has become old hat in an astonishingly short period of time for the pioneering female mixed martial artist. Just 16 months after first defending her UFC title, and a little over two years after making her presence known by defeating rival Miesha Tate for what was then the Strikeforce belt, Rousey is on the verge of cleaning out her division.
A victory over the 29-year-old Davis (16-5), the winner of five fights in a row and eight of her last nine, would make Rousey 10-0. All nine of her victories to date have been finishes; and eight of them didn't get out of the first round.
But Rousey insists that she won't be lacking for motivation any time soon.
"There's always another challenge, there's always something new," said Rousey. "I don't worry about losing motivation, because something is always going to drive me."
Still, given the way Rousey has run roughshod over the competition, and given that her last two opponents don't exactly light up the room with their charisma, it's easy to look elsewhere to see who could make for an interesting matchup.
Which brings us to one of Rousey's least favorite topics: Cris "Cyborg" Justino. The former Strikeforce and current Invicta featherweight champion, who was busted for steroids after a 2011 fight, has long been a thorn in Rousey's side (though it must be said that Rousey started it on her way up, trolling Justino to get attention).
Just last year, Justino claimed she couldn't get down to bantamweight without encountering health issues. Now she says she can get there. Rousey, who is almost always calm and collected in public, raises her voice when she's asked about a potential Justino fight.
"I wanted to fight her, but the thing is, she's the one that ran away," Rousey snapped. "They announced out-of-competition drug testing in the UFC and within 24 hours she asked for her release."
"Then she started saying that 'Oh I won't be able to make 135, because then it will be much harder for me to have kids,'" she continued. "Then I was I like, 'You didn't give a flying [expletive] about how having steroids would have affected her kids, let's put an over/under on your miscarriages now just based on that."
Rousey's tone changes considerably, though, when offered the prospect of fighting the woman who paved her path in the sport, Gina Carano. Carano, who left MMA in 2009 to pursue a Hollywood career, has been in talks with the UFC about making a comeback, although MMAFighting.com recently reported that those talks have stalled.
Cynics could point out that Carano hasn't fought in five years, and that her last fight was a one-sided loss to Justino. Others would note that regardless of such an absence, interest in such a fight would very likely make such a bout the biggest-money fight the UFC can put on any time soon.
Rousey, though, insists that a fight with Carano is something that she has wanted since the first time she laid eyes on the sport.
"The first women's MMA fight I ever saw was Gina Carano vs. Julie Kedzie," Rousey said of a famous 2007 bout. "Not only did I admire what [Carano] was doing, but also I was blown away by the reaction all the guys were giving them, and, I just remember sitting there and thinking, 'I could totally beat both of these chicks.'
"Whether she ever wants to fight again or not is entirely up to her. But, ever since that day when I had that first taste of women's MMA, she's the fight I wanted."
With fantasy matchmaking out of the way, it's back to the here and now, and the fight-week routine of courting the press. The UFC is about to add a women's strawweight (115 pounds) division, which Rousey feels will give her some relief.
"It definitely takes a lot of pressure off of me having another women's champion that they can really get behind," Rousey said. "Then maybe I don't have to fight so often."
Oh yeah, the fight. Alexis Davis. Saturday night. We may as well get around to talking about Rousey's opponent.
"I'm taking her very seriously," Rousey said. "She's great on the ground with her jiu-jitsu, and I'm looking forward to seeing how my judo matches up with it. She's well-rounded. Look, I might be the favorite in the odds, but I take my opponent more seriously than they take me. I guarantee it. I want this more than they do."
Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter @DaveDoyleMMA
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Ronda Rousey
- Alexis Davis
- Gina Carano