“If anyone messes with them, I’ll rip off their face. And that’s my job.” -- Ronda Rousey, speaking about the Four Horsewomen in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News in 2014
When Ronda Rousey enters the Octagon at UFC 190 on Saturday, defeating Bethe Correia is not just about retaining her title. Over the past 15 months, Correia has run through Rousey’s stable of “Four Horsewomen,” defeating first Jessamyn Duke by unanimous decision at UFC 172 and then Shayna Baszler by TKO at UFC 177 in August before calling out the champion. The Four Horsewomen is a group of female MMA fighters formed by Rousey that also includes Marina Shafir, and they live and train together in Southern California.
After each victory, Correia has held up four fingers, then put one down after beating Duke and two after beating Baszler, signifying she was coming after Rousey. The animosity between Rousey and Correia has reached a fever pitch because of comments the Brazilian has made over the past few months, but fueling Rousey’s mission to defeat Correia is a disrespect for Rousey's family and her teammates. Throughout MMA history, many fights have been fueled by revenge for a teammate who suffered defeat.
Perhaps the biggest rivalry in UFC history began because a teammate was disrespected. In January 1999 at UFC 18, Tito Ortiz defeated Lion’s Den fighter Jerry Bohlander by TKO. Just months later at UFC 19, Ortiz avenged a loss to Guy Mezger, also of the Lion’s Den Gym. After the fight against Mezger, Ortiz put on a derogatory shirt directed at Mezger, drawing the ire of Lion’s Den owner Ken Shamrock. Shamrock was so incensed by the gesture that he jumped into the cage and attempted to attack Ortiz.
It took almost four years for a Ortiz-Shamrock bout to materialize, and when it did at UFC 40, it was the biggest event in the company’s history. Ortiz won the fight when Shamrock’s corner threw in the towel, but the animosity was still there. The two men coached Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter” a few years later in 2006, and the bad blood picked up right where it left off. At the end of the season, Ortiz and Shamrock faced off at UFC 61 in July 2006 with Ortiz once again winning, this time by a controversial stoppage. The third and final fight between the two was Oct. 10, 2006, and Ortiz won yet again. After the bout, the two men buried the hatchet, closing the book on one of the great feuds in UFC history.
More recently, TJ Dillashaw’s road to the UFC bantamweight title ran through Renan Barao, culminating in his victory on Saturday at UFC on Fox 16. But the road to the Dillashaw-Barao rivalry started back in 2012, when Barao defeated Dillashaw’s teammate, Urijah Faber, at UFC 149 for the interim bantamweight title. Barao defeated Faber once again at UFC 169 in February 2014, which led the Nova Uniao fighter into his next title defense against Faber’s Team Alpha Male teammate.
In one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, Dillashaw dominated Barao for five rounds before finishing the champion at 2:26 of the final round to win the title. After a number of postponements and a fair share of trash talk between the two, the rematch finally took place on Saturday. Once again, Dillashaw controlled the fight, finishing Barao in the fourth round for the second defense of his UFC bantamweight title.
Then there's Kazushi Sakuraba, who fought many members of the Gracie family -- also known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu royalty. The first Sakuraba-Gracie matchup took place at Pride 8 in November 1999, when the Japanese fighter defeated Royler Gracie via a kimura submission. The Sakuraba legend was further amplified when, in May 2000, he defeated UFC 1 tournament winner Royce Gracie when the Gracie camp threw in the towel after 90 minutes of fighting.
After the defeat of Royce, the Japanese media dubbed Sakuraba “The Gracie Hunter.” Sakuraba would go on to defeat brothers Renzo and Ryan Gracie, moving his record to 4-0 against Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s first family. In 2007, Royce Gracie would get his turn at revenge and succeeded when he defeated Sakuraba by unanimous decision at a K-1 event. Three years later in 2010, Royce’s nephew Ralek Gracie defeated Sakuraba by unanimous decision under the Dream banner. The Gracie-Sakuraba rivalry finally concluded in 2014, when Sakuraba fought Royce Gracie to a time limit at a Metamoris grappling event.