Since Ronda Rousey was announced as the first women to join the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the former Strikeforce bantamweight queen has been labeled by many as the face of women’s MMA.
With that title comes great exposure, as well as the expectation that she keep winning to bring WMMA further into the national spotlight. Though that may appear a heavy load to bear, Rousey sees any external pressures as small potatoes compared to the expectations she places on herself.
“The pressure I put on myself for my own pride far outweighs any pressure that comes from anybody else’s motives,” Rousey said Tuesday during a media conference call. “It does seem like a very important fight, but I don’t like anybody that much. I care more about winning for myself that I care about winning for anybody else.”
While Rousey believes she is fully prepared to shoulder the responsibility of ruling the UFC’s first women’s division, she also understands that her journey will present her with a bevy of legitimate challenges along the way. The submission ace now finds herself as one of the first two women to ever compete in the Octagon, as Rousey defends her newly christened title on Feb. 23 against former Strikeforce title challenger Liz Carmouche at UFC 157.
“It means a lot [to represent women’s MMA], but these are things that needed to be done for a very long time now, and I didn’t think that waiting for someone else to do it was the wisest thing to do,” said Rousey. “I felt like I was the most capable person and that I should just suck it up and go out and do whatever I could to make it happen. Of course there are a lot of very big obstacles in the way, Liz Carmouche being one of them, and I’m taking them all very seriously.”
An Olympic bronze medalist in judo, Rousey ascended to prominence in just under one year, making her pro debut in March 2011 and rattling off four consecutive victories before submitting Miesha Tate to capture the Strikeforce title. This past August, Rousey put her gold on the line against former champion Sarah Kaufman and submitted the Canadian in just 54 seconds. With the exception of Tate, none of Rousey’s opponents have made it past the one-minute mark before succumbing to the Californian’s trademark armbar.
Recently, fans have been calling for Rousey to square off with former Strikeforce 145-pound champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, though the Brazilian and her representatives have stated on numerous occasions that it would be unhealthy for Santos to cut down to the bantamweight limit. Recently, Santos’ manager, Tito Ortiz, announced that Santos has requested to be released from her Zuffa contract in order to pursue other options.
“I think that she’s just making a lot of noise and trying to get attention because she’s fading into being irrelevant. She hasn’t had a recorded win in around two years, so she has to have people go on TV and make a big fuss so that people will even remember her name,” said Rousey. “To be honest, I have a lot of options ahead of me. I have a lot of girls that I could fight, and she doesn’t really have any options besides me.”
Regardless of whether a future meeting with Santos materializes, Rousey is fully cognizant that she must first get past Carmouche when the two collide next Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“I’m not spending any of my time worrying about [Santos], because Liz Carmouche has 100 percent of my attention right now,” said Rousey. “[Santos] can run around and make a bunch of noise and be a big ‘Cry-borg’ as much as she wants, but at some point, she’s going to have to come around and take the only fight that’s really available to her.”