UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has skyrocketed to the fringes of superstardom, breaking down barriers that separated men from women in combat sports. She’s ushered in a new era of awareness about female mixed martial artists.
Rivalries sell fights and build legacies, and her rise to prominence will forever be linked to her bitter rivalry with Miesha Tate.
Tate captured the Strikeforce women’s 135-pound title by submitting Marloes Coenen in July 2011. Rousey was an up-and-comer who had only fought in Strikeforce's farm league Challengers Series at the time. Rousey relentlessly called out the champion and was eventually granted the opportunity to fight for the title.
Tate felt that Rousey’s tactics to obtain the title bout were disrespectful. Rousey defeated Tate in the first round by arm bar, dislocating Tate’s left arm at the elbow.
Building on the rivalry, Rousey and Tate are opposing coaches on the upcoming season of the UFC reality series The Ultimate Fighter and will rematch at UFC 168 later this year.
Although Rousey has a win over Tate, she’s not looking past her archrival.
“Being that the fight with Miesha is the one in front of me than I’m going to treat it like it’s the hardest fight in the world,” said Rousey during a question and answer session prior to the UFC Fight Night 26 official weigh-ins. “I’m not really putting any thoughts about anybody else in my head right now.”
The Olympic Bronze Medalist in judo believes what separates her and Tate heading into the rematch is preparation and mental approach.
“They’re kind of saying, oh, Ronda’s no good after the first round, or the first minute. They’re crossing their fingers and hoping that whatever they don’t know about my game is bad,” said the champion.
“I’m assuming that Miesha fixed all the holes that I saw in her game last time and she’s going to be like the best version of her that ever happened,” she added.
“I’m going to train for a five-round battle, whereas they’re hoping that after the first round I’m going to peter out. They’re training for the worst version of me possible that they can think of, and I’m training for the best version of her possible that I can even imagine.”
“I think that’s the big difference between how me and Miesha prepare,” said Rousey.