“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey returns to action at UFC 190 in Brazil this weekend in what looks like an extremely easy fight for the bantamweight champ.
Rousey faces the No. 7-ranked contender Bethe “Pitbull” Correia who effectively talked herself into this match through taunting the American for years.
Added to that, Correia defeated Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, Rousey’s friends, which didn’t help.
Then this match took a personal twist when Correia claimed that she was going to beat Rousey for her 135-pound title so badly she would feel like committing suicide afterwards.
As far as trash talking goes that was bad enough, but Correia insisted she didn’t know that Rousey’s father, Ron, committed suicide when his daughter was a small child.
If Rousey needed any more motivation not to treat Correia lightly, this was it. Having won most of her 11 unbeaten UFC bouts in the first round, there is no doubt Rousey can repeat that again in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, but she said she doesn’t want to finish Correia quickly and intends to punish her first before bringing the fight to a conclusion, probably with her trademark arm bar.
Even though Correia has since apologized, insisting that she didn’t know, the harm is already done.
Things look ominous for Correia, 32, who has only been a mixed martial arts athlete for four years. She took up the sport initially just to lose weight and get fit and quickly fell in love with MMA when a talent for knocking opponents senseless emerged.
But Rousey’s pedigree is far deeper. She was born into martial arts through her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, who was a judo instructor and in 1984 became the first American to win a world judo title, male or female.
Rousey was wakened most mornings by her mother putting an arm bar on her to make her get up for school, hence her penchant for winning by this method.
An Olympic bronze medal in judo at the Beijing Games in 2008 was the climax of her amateur career before Rousey, 28, started fighting for pay. A few lean years ensued on the embryonic female MMA circuit, struggling to pay her rent, feed herself properly and praying that her rusty old car would not break down again. Nevertheless, she persevered, believing in her destiny.
And then the life-changing call came from UFC president Dana White in 2012 – for Rousey to headline the first women’s bout in the organization’s history.
She defeated Liz Carmouche inside a round on UFC 157 in February 2013 and has become not just a UFC superstar. In the short time since, she has amassed millions and enjoys multiple product endorsements, TV and film appearances.
Like all sensible champs, Rousey is aware that the longer she stays unbeaten, the more her fame and earning power will increase. That’s why she has trained as hard as ever for this bout, not taking Correia for granted.
She said last week that the hard financial times are still a vivid memory and she wants to distance herself from those miserable days as much as possible, which is why she still has the mindset of a struggling contender.
Rousey now has the finest air-conditioned training facilities, coaches, sparring partners and nutrition.
Correia’s preparations are in direct contrast. Divorced a few years ago when she was an accounting student, she recently remarried. Her new husband is her trainer, Edelson Silva, a boxing coach who once trained the legendary UFC fighter Anderson “Spider” Silva (no relation).
Their gym is a spartan, dusty one, in Natal, northern Brazil. Correia is unbeaten in the eight MMA fights she’s had, but her last bout was almost a year ago. None of her opponents were remotely near good enough to challenge Rousey, who won her last fight in 14 seconds.
Bookies are giving Correia virtually no chance. It is reflected in their long odds.
Miesha Tate is a possible opponent for Rousey after this one.
The champ has beaten her twice before but Tate is a more rounded fighter now and insists she is capable of causing an upset.
Tate, a 28-year-old American, said, “I want to say before I retire that I was the UFC world champion, so at the end of the day it doesn’t matter who has the belt. That’s the biggest goal.”
Despite those two losses, Tate still fancies her chances in another Rowdy bout. Like all Rousey opponents, there is no love lost between them. Tate said, “I love punching Ronda in the face.”