Ronda Rousey defended her UFC women’s bantamweight title on Saturday and again reminded the MMA world of her Olympic pedigree.
With multiple judo throws and hip tosses, Rousey defeated a game Miesha Tate at UFC 168: Weidman-Silva II at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The win earned Rousey Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses, totaling $150,000.
In the postfight news conference, UFC president Dana White announced Rousey (8-0) will face Sara McMann (7-0) at UFC 170 on Feb. 22.
While Rousey once again won with her patented arm bar, it was the ease with which she took down Tate that was on display.
Tate started off aggressively, trading strikes with Rousey to keep the fight standing. But inevitably, Rousey pushed toward the clinch, tying up Tate, who took down Rousey at 3:26 of the first round.
But even after getting the takedown, Tate ended up on defense more than offense, as Rousey’s jiu-jitsu was markedly improved. She attributed this improvement to training with jiu-jitsu gurus Rener and Ryron Gracie during her last two fight camps.
Tate also seemed a much improved striker, landing 48 percent of her strikes, up from the 41 percent she averaged while competing in Strikeforce. However, Tate’s wrestling instincts kept her going to the ground with Rousey, and Rousey kept hip tossing Tate to the mat.
In the end, Rousey was able to sink in the arm bar for the win in the third round.
“I have no excuses,” Tate said. “[Rousey] was the better fighter tonight.”
Rousey said her problem has been trying not to rush her attacks and approach. However, entering Saturday's bout Rousey had defeated all of her opponents so handily, she’s never had to slow herself down. Against Tate she needed to regroup and remind herself to take her foot off the gas.
“Judo matches are just five minutes long. So I always felt like I had to get it done in a hurry,” Rousey said. “In the third round, I learned to be patient. My coaches always say to pay attention to what you’re doing and do everything for a reason.”
UFC fans know what’s next for Rousey, but what about Tate?
Now 0-2 in the UFC and a loser in three of her last four fights, Tate has lost twice to Rousey, who originally took the Strikeforce bantamweight championship from Tate in 2012. Thus, the odds are long that she’ll receive a third shot at Rousey anytime soon. With just two women’s divisions in the UFC, Tate really has nowhere to go.
“I don’t really know what’s next. Every day people try to climb up a hill. I see Mount Everest,” Tate said. “But I try to walk away from this with my head held high. I just need some time to figure it out.”
Rousey, on the other hand, relished the opportunity to fight so quickly again.
“Dana approached me about this and I wanted to do it,” Rousey said. “I’m in the best shape of my life. I don’t want to sit on the shelf. It’s the perfect time to go back-to-back. I feel like I could fight again tonight.”
As for the feud with Tate, Rousey’s victory should have ensured the end of any sort of “rivalry” talk, for a rivalry isn't a rivalry when it’s so one-sided. Further, Rousey seemed to soften her stance on Tate and offered compliments in her postfight interviews.
“I need to commend Miesha. She did a great job tonight. She’s an amazing fighter. She really is,” Rousey said.
However, when Tate extended her hand in a gesture of sportsmanship after losing to Rousey, she refused to shake Tate’s hand.
“Once you insult my family, I can’t shake your hand,” said Rousey, referring to some of the practical jokes Tate played on Rousey’s coaching staff during filming of Season 18 of "The Ultimate Fighter." "But I really respect her, and I think she did an amazing job tonight.
"For me, family comes before anything, even the boos and cheers of the crowd. I think it would disrespect my family if I shook her hand. I said she did an amazing job. But I can’t shake the hand of someone who spits on my back. Until she apologizes to my family, I won’t shake her hand."
Rousey might have been the overwhelming favorite coming into the fight, but the crowd made it very clear who was their favorite, as cheers came for Tate, but boos muffled Rousey’s postfight interview. Ultimately, TUF 18 might have represented a sea change in Rousey’s brand and role as an antihero champion. Regardless, there’s no question it helped sell the fight.
“I was aware of the role I was in,” Rousey said. “The best analogy I can give is it was like how Batman knew he had to look like the bad guy and allow Two-Face to be the good guy because that what was needed at the time.”
And she’ll take boos, which she says might help her as she begins training for McMann. Her Olympic pedigree has helped her cope with that part of the business as well.
"When I was doing judo, I got booed in 30 different countries around the world," Rousey said. "Cheering is something new for me. I’m much more motivated by proving people wrong."