Jessamyn Duke meets Bethe Correia at UFC 172 on Saturday night in Baltimore.
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
BALTIMORE — Jessamyn Duke knows Ronda Rousey as well as almost anyone — they live together. And Duke thinks calling Rousey homophobic or anything of the sort is "a pretty ridiculous statement."
Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion, has been under fire in the last week after telling Yahoo! Sports that rival Cris Cyborg has done so many performance-enhancing drugs that she’s no longer a woman and now "an it." UFC president Dana White defended Rousey on Thursday, saying Rousey meant the statement with regards to Cyborg’s steroid use. Duke agrees.
"People will take things and twist them how they want it," Duke told FOX Sports. "They’re taking things in a direction they weren’t intended to be."
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MMA apparel company Americana caused a stir when, after Rousey’s comments, they announced on Twitter that they would give $5,000 to the first female fighter to knock the undefeated Rousey out in the Octagon. Rousey next meets Alexis Davis at UFC 175 on July 5. Duke called it "a publicity stunt to get attention."
"To a fighter who has earned a shot at Ronda, $5,000 is a pretty lame offer honestly," Duke said. … "To me it showed their value as a brand if they’re only offering $5,000."
To me it showed their value as a brand if they’re only offering $5,000.
-Jessamyn Duke on Americana
Duke, 27, meets Bethe Correia in her second official UFC fight Saturday at UFC 175 here at Baltimore Arena after being on The Ultimate Fighter 18. She was coached by Rousey on the show and then moved to California to live with Rousey. Shayna Baszler, who was also on Team Rousey, moved in with them, too.
Duke, Baszler, Rousey and Rousey’s best friend and roommate Marina Shafir have dubbed themselves "The Four Horsewoman," in homage to the infamous pro wrestling stable. Duke has benefited from living in Venice with the trio outside of just a cool nickname for their group of friends.
"You can’t even measure it, honestly," Duke said about how much she has improved. "It’s so different. It’s a complete change in everything about me. It’s just a totally different environment than anything I’ve ben in in my life. It’s only helping my career. I have a lot of things to draw on. … I lived with three of the best female grapplers in MMA right now and have them on a day-to-day basis. As far as my grappling goes, that’s only getting better."
Duke’s standup was already a strength and she believes it has only gotten better working with Rousey’s head coach Edmond Tarverdyan at Glendale Fighting Club. She figures to use that and her 10-inch reach advantage against the much shorter Correia. Duke is 5-foot-11 and Correia is 5-foot-4.
"She’s obviously at a disadvantage," Duke said. "She has to work a lot harder to get inside. I’ve got knees waiting on her. I’ve got knees for days."
Just being here in Baltimore is a big deal for Duke. She beat Peggy Morgan in December, but it was at the TUF Finale in Las Vegas. Now, she’s on the FOX Sports prelims of a pay-per-view card headlined by Jon Jones, arguably the best fighter in the world.
"This time, it’s just the UFC and one of the biggest shows so far of the year," Duke said. "It feels pretty epic to be a part of it."