February 29, 2012
Tate to Rousey: 'Come here my pretty'
By NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency
Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate plans on making Ronda Rousey eat her words.
“I definitely have a lot of fuel going into this fight,” Tate said on a recent conference call. “She’s pissed me off in a lot of ways and I’ve taken a lot of what she’s said very personally. I’ve kind of settled into being a fighter and I think this is something I needed, someone to get under my skin a little bit and really irritate me to bring out my full potential as a fighter.
“I’m going to turn this into a fight and make it dirty. I’m going to hurt her and try to knock her out or submit her.
“She’s way more talk than anything else. I’m not intimidated by all the trash-talking and I’m definitely not buying into it at all.”
The two will clash in the main event of Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday. The card, which airs in Canada on the Super Channel, also features a lightweight contenders bout between Josh Thomson and K.J. Noons.
A bronze medallist in judo at the 2008 Olympics, Rousey’s four professional bouts have each lasted less than one minute and were won via armbar. Even her three amateur fights ended under the exact same circumstances. In total, Rousey’s only competed in MMA for four minutes and two seconds.
Though her accomplishments speak for themselves, her mouth likely played the biggest role in securing a title shot. Prior to the fight being signed, Rousey grabbed headlines by unloading a torrent of trash talk and lobbying for a crack at Tate’s belt. Even though she has never competed at 135 pounds in her MMA career, her hard work paid off.
“I knew the day I started I could win the title and the quicker the better,” Rousey said. “If giving a couple more entertaining interviews than some of the other girls helps me out, then I’m going to do that.
“I kind of created this rivalry on purpose because I have enough friends. What I really could use is a few enemies. I think the result of how much attention this fight is getting has proven me right.”
It’s hard to argue with Rousey on that point.
Women’s MMA hasn’t received this much attention since Gina Carano fought Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos more than two years ago. Even UFC president Dana White, who hasn’t exactly been the biggest supporter of women’s MMA in the past, recently admitted to being excited about this scrap.
Tate said the hype is a positive thing for women’s MMA, but doesn’t feel Rousey has earned her shot at the title.
“At 4-0 I don’t think she’s as deserving as some other people,” Tate said. “That doesn’t mean her skill set is not great and maybe she’s not going to be the next greatest fighter or whatever, but I don’t feel that she has earned this title fight. I don’t think she’s earned it at 4-0 and having never fought at 135 pounds.
“But it’s an entertainment business and this is a fight the fans want to see. From that aspect, I can understand why (Strikeforce) would want to put it together and why it’s being so promoted and getting so much attention.”
It also goes without saying that sex appeal has also played a role in hyping the fight. UFC commentator Joe Rogan even referred to it as the “hottest” title bout in MMA history.
Neither fighter sees this in a negative light, but admit it’s up to them to give fans a fight, not a beauty contest.
“It’s great that we both bring that element to it because it’s something different,” Tate said. “I think it’s good for us and that we both embrace being beautiful, empowered, strong women. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
“The most important thing is that we deliver inside the cage and that we show first and foremost we are fighters. That’s why we’re here. We’re also women and beautiful outside the cage. It’s perfectly fine to have both.”
Though she has the opportunity to advance women’s MMA, Rousey also hopes to prove that judo is a strong background for the sport.
“Judo is a great grappling art for MMA,” Rousey said. “It’s one of the best for clinching. In the clinch it’s the best way to take somebody down. It’s also the only art that emphasizes transitions — going from a throw straight into a submission right away. I think it’s been under-appreciated.
“One of my goals when I started MMA was not just to push women’s MMA, but also to promote judo. Judo has been kind of going downhill the past few decades.”
Tate said Rousey’s high-level judo experience will actually be her downfall.
“When you’ve been training one specific art for so long that becomes your habit and your first nature,” Tate said. “When she gets in the cage, she has a lot of bad habits that come from judo that are going to be hard for her to break because they’re instinctual — it’s called muscle memory. She’s trained it that way so many times, but it doesn’t work that well for MMA.
“Ronda is not a fighter. She has not fought a single fight yet. She’s gone out there, judo-thrown people and arm-barred them. She’s thrown maybe five punches in her whole entire fight career. It’s going to be a game changer when she finally eats some leather this time.”