Ronda Rousey: Because I love Gina Carano, I’d fight her like she’s my worst enemy
It must be exhausting being Ronda Rousey. Less than two months between fights for her, the opponent speculation hit maximum overdrive.
Would it be Gina Carano, who publicly acknowledged she wanted to compete again? Would it be the boxer-turned-mixed-martial-artist Holly Holm? Would Cris Cyborg come into the fold? Maybe Cat Zingano would finally cash in her opportunity? The answer was none of the above.
Instead, the UFC surprised most when it announced Rousey would fight Alexis Davis at UFC 175 on July 5.
The reason? Scheduling. The original word was that Rousey wanted to fight in the late summer, but after recently meeting with Dana White, it was determined that a July date would work best. It would put Rousey on a major event — the Fourth of July weekend show is historically one of the biggest of the year — and also give her time to rest up before doing promotion for her film debut in "The Expendables."
One of the things my mom always taught me was, it doesn’t matter if you won the last tournament or the person you’re fighting was in the Olympics or even an Olympic champion.
- Ronda Rousey
Davis is currently ranked No. 2, so she’s not exactly being shoehorned in undeservedly; it’s just that her name doesn’t yet carry with it the same kind of buzz as some of the others more prominently mentioned.
Ask Rousey though, and she’ll tell you that the matchup gets her competitive juices flowing much the same way that one of those others would.
"Regardless of who they are, I’m still putting everything I’ve worked for my whole life on the line," she told FOX Sports. "One of the things my mom always taught me was, it doesn’t matter if you won the last tournament or the person you’re fighting was in the Olympics or even an Olympic champion. They don’t start the match with an extra point just because of who they are. And I don’t assume to start the match ahead because my record and career are a little bit more well known."
The busiest woman in the fight business seems to like to add degree of difficulty to her accomplishments. Before she fought Miesha Tate in their rematch, she filmed a movie. Then she fought Sara McMann on less than two months’ notice, promptly scoring her first-career TKO. So what extra wrinkle will she add this time around?
One week before the fight, she’ll take care of some important family business when she serves as the maid of honor for her sister Jennifer’s wedding, which conveniently takes place in Las Vegas, the same site as UFC 175.
"It really would have sucked if it was somewhere else, because I would have had to suck it up and go do it," she said with a laugh.
With Rousey week in Vegas taking place in the early summer, the expedited timeline put several fights out of the running, including her long-awaited scrap with Cat Zingano, who Rousey says is "definitely owed a title shot."
Davis (16-5) became the best option. The 29-year-old has won all three of her fights since entering the UFC, though in her last bout, which came on the undercard of Rousey’s last defense, Davis won a controversial split-decision over Jessica Eye. Rousey, who watched it as it happened, said she felt that Davis won the fight, but admitted she was preoccupied with her own preparation and wasn’t fully attentive to the action.
Even though the fight represents the same risk, it won’t be able to touch the buzz that would have been generated by a Rousey-Carano fight. Carano was the first Rousey, the sport’s first crossover female star, and the one who opened the door a crack allowing Rousey to burst through.
Rousey speaks reverently about her, even saying she owes "every bit" of her own success to seeing Carano’s example. She calls her "charming and sweet," and says there is no one in the sport she respects more. Yet she adds that her way of showing that respect is different than most. Yes, she’ll publicly commend Carano in the media, but more than that, she wants to fight her.
"I think fighting someone with anything less than your absolute best would be insulting to them," she said. "Because of how much I love Gina, I’m going to fight her as if she’s my worst enemy. I really believe she wouldn’t want to beat me at anything other than my best, so that’s how it needs to be done."
For now though, that will have to wait. So, too, will Zingano and Cyborg and Holm, as Rousey builds up a backlog of potential opponents all hoping to put the first dent in her perfect record.
Still undefeated, with Hollywood business picking up and her sister’s wedding to attend to, the UFC’s Ms. Perfect has everyone vying her attention. Some of those calls will have to go unanswered, but when she hones in her goals, she has shown a remarkable ability to multi-task with the best of them. So even though her eyes are currently on Davis, don’t think the others are too far out of her thoughts. After all, to get to them, she has to keep on winning.
"No matter who I’m fighting, I feel the stakes are always just as high," she said, "because I always stand to lose just as much regardless of who it’s against."