If there was any doubt about Ronda Rousey’s appeal on a global stage, her appearance in Brazil on Wednesday at the UFC 190 open workouts should answer all of those questions.
Rousey is supposed to be stepping into enemy territory this weekend as she faces Brazilian fighter Bethe Correia in the main event at UFC 190, but if the crowd in Rio de Janeiro during her workout is any indication, she might be the fan favorite on Saturday.
Rousey worked out with her sparring partner on the stage while the crowd surrounding the area grew with each minute she was performing.
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At different points during the workout, the crowd broke out into loud chants screaming “Ronda, Ronda” over and over again. Whenever Rousey would execute one of her famous Judo throws, the crowd would roar in excitement.
Following the conclusion of her workout, a little boy made his way on stage and rushed towards Rousey and immediately embraced her like she was a superhero who just saved his city from ruin. Rousey gave the boy a hug as she greeted him with a big smile while she was still on stage.
The Brazilian crowd began screaming and chanting her name, and fans were visibly shaken and crying as Rousey started making her way through the mass of people to take pictures and sign autographs. Reports out of Brazil said that Rousey delayed her media interviews by almost an hour so she could meet as many fans as possible after concluding her workout.
Correia was already fighting an uphill battle as she faces Rousey as one of the biggest underdogs in UFC history, but now she might walk into the arena on Saturday night at UFC 190 with the Brazilian crowd rooting for the women’s bantamweight champion.