Following her eighth professional win and second inside the Octagon, Ronda Rousey was greeted with a much different reaction after beating Miesha Tate at UFC 168 than she found in her first bout.
Rousey submitted Tate — like all of her previous opponents — by armbar. This particular win was extra satisfying because it helped end a two-year-long feud as Rousey has now defeated Tate by submission on two occassions.
The rivalry between Rousey and Tate was one of the nastiest in UFC history with both fighters taking trash talk to a whole new level, especially when they served as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 17 earlier this year. But once the fight was over, Tate rose from the mat and offered her hand in congratulations to Rousey.
Instead of shaking Tate’s hand as a sign of good sportsmanship, Rousey took one glance, turned and walked away as the Las Vegas crowd rained down a see of boos on the women’s bantamweight champion. Following the event, Rousey was questioned about her decision to dismiss Tate’s hand shake despite dozens upon dozens of similar heated rivalries coming to a close after a fight is over.
Rousey explained that Tate deserves her respect as a fighter, but not as a person after she took shots at her coach and one of her teammates during filming of The Ultimate Fighter this year.
"I feel like the day that she formally apologizes to my coach Edmond (Tarverdyan) and Chris Beal and they accept that apology, then I will consider shaking your hand again," Rousey said at the UFC 168 post fight press conference. "I said up there boos are not (more) important to me than my family. If I feel like you’ve done wrong against my family, you need to make that right before I can shake your hand. It means something to me, it’s not something I just throw out there.
"She’s a great fighter. It was an amazing fight she put out. She has my respect entirely in that regard, but she really needs to make up a few things she’s done before I will shake her hand."
Rousey’s antics were not received well by the fans in attendance, who only 10 months earlier in her UFC debut could not have cheered louder when she caught the same armbar to finish Liz Carmouche.
Between a static and off putting stint as coach on The Ultimate Fighter and now her refusal to even shake an opponent’s hand after a fight, Rousey has gone from hero to villain in a matter of months. While that may concern some people, don’t count Rousey among them.
She’s not worried about how she’s being perceived or what people think about her decision to not shake Tate’s hand. Rousey is comfortable in her skin whether she’s beloved or despised. In her opinion, Rousey believes she’s very much like Batman in the film ‘The Dark Knight’ when he allowed a city full of patrons to turn against him for the greater good of allowing a popular politician to become a martyr.
"I wasn’t surprised at all," Rousey said of the jeers from the crowd. "I was aware of the role that I was in. This is the favorite analogy that I use — Batman played the bad guy and let Scarface (editor’s note: Rousey likely means Two-Face) look like the good guy because that’s what Gotham City needed at the time. So for every fight I approach it for what’s needed at the time."
Whether or not Rousey is needed as an antagonist right now is arguable, but there’s no doubt she’s quickly become one of the most polarizing figures in MMA and that will routinely turn into pay-per-view buys because everyone will tune in to watch her fight — whether they turn on the channel to see her win or lose is inconsequential so long as they watch.