This weekend UFC champion Ronda Rousey (7-0) puts her belt and title on the line against her bitter rival, Miesha Tate (13-4). The fight is the co-main event one of the UFC’s biggest cards of the year. In the main event, Chris Weidman defends his title against legendary Anderson Silva. The attention has largely been on the Silva rematch but fans are also anxious for the rematch between Ronda and Miesha.
Ronda Rousey was virtually unknown 3 years ago and when I interviewed her at the LA FIT EXPO before her first fight with Miesha, many people believed she had talked her way into the fight. She shut those people up when she not only defeated Miesha but also submitted her to remain undefeated. She did so in convincing fashion and in the first round. That fight took place during the Arnold Classic weekend as part of the defunct Strikeforce promotion. The fight was impressive enough to get the attention of the UFC’s president Dana White and he changed his tune on Women’s Mixed Martial Arts.
Ronda was part of the UFC’s first women’s event and the event had more media attention from the “mainstream” than anyone since Brock Lesnar. The fight arguably had the most mainstream media attention of any UFC fight. The UFC hype machine went into overdrive to push the fight and while it did a good job of selling fans on Ronda, it left little desire to pay attention to the Women’s MMA after that. As evident in this weekend’s rematch, we see little to no attention outside of the usual MMA media. ESPN’s Sports Center is giving it about as much attention as a high school football game. When Ronda fought in the octagon the first time you saw TIME, LA Times, HBO and countless other outlets covering the event.
Ronda at the UFC 168 Weigh-ins looking hardbody.
Does Ronda care? Hell no. She wisely put herself on the map heading into her first match with Miesha by giving the media sound clips they could run with for days and she continues to do so today. She took a bit of a hit from MMA fans by the way she was portrayed on The Ultimate Fighter but outside of that fan base it’s done little to cause he stock to drop. She appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and was a very happy, upbeat and likable champ.
Miesha’s fan base grew out of The Ultimate Fighter appearance. She was shown as a smiling, happy but tough athlete. The fans showed their support when the UFC put her against Ronda for the UFC’s video game cover. She was victorious over Ronda in that contest and will look to do it again tonight but can she?
Anything is possible in the octagon but if you’re a gambler don’t be against the champ. Ronda is an Olympic athlete who is used to intense pressure and media attention on her. She’s talked about how she has more energy than ever before by teaming up with Mike Dolce on her nutrition. When the two stepped on the scales yesterday, you could see Ronda looked the best she has heading into a fight and it could spell bad news for Miesha. Miesha is no slouch but she’ll need to put her emotions in check and fight much smarter than she did the first time against Ronda. Miesha’s stand up is her best bet against Ronda but she better hope it knocks “Rowdy” out because when it goes to the ground we know how it will end. In an arm bar, like every other one of Ronda’s fights, and in the first round.
Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate have developed one of the fiercest rivalries in the UFC, spawned from Rousey’s armbar submission of Tate for the Strikeforce title in 2011 and their stint as coaches on TUF 18. The pair battle again at UFC 168.