LOS ANGELES — Ronda Rousey’s Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title defense against bitter rival Miesha Tate is approaching fast.
But in the world of Rousey – mixed martial arts champion and ambassador, budding action star and reality television coach – topics aplenty abound when she sits down with the media.
Such was the case on Thursday afternoon, as she sat down with a cavalcade of media at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles amid a whirlwind day of appearances.
With topics ranging from her acting in “The Expendables 3” and “Fast and Furious 7” and her tumultuous time coaching opposite Tate on “The Ultimate Fighter,” it all came back to her upcoming title defense on Dec. 28 in the co-main event of UFC 168 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Thus, if any doubts persist about her ability to juggle making back-to-back movies ahead of her title fight, it’s simply more motivation.
“I try to make it look even more unattainable every single time. So even if I’ve done some crazy, near-impossible things before, I always want the next thing to be like, ‘Well, she can’t do that,’” said Rousey, 26, who trains under Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club. “I still need to raise it to the next level, because I think it’s impossible to get just as motivated for the same pro fight. I’ve already fought for the UFC championship, I’ve already fought Miesha. How can I up the ante for this one? It’s just another way that I can make more people doubt me.”
The undefeated Rousey (7-0) will take on an opponent in Tate (13-4) who she previously defeated for the Strikeforce bantamweight championship in 2012. The bout will serve as the co-main event on a card headlined by the UFC middleweight title rematch between champion Chris Weidman and the man he defeated, Anderson Silva.
On Thursday, though, “The Expendables 3” trailer was released and that’s where focus began during the media luncheon. Joining the ranks of the likes of Sylvester Stallone for “Expendables” and Vin Diesel for “Fast and Furious” was a good experience, she said, but after all was said and wrapped, she was ready to begin her training camp.
“The movie stuff was fun, but once it was over, I was like, ‘Thank God,’” Rousey said. “I was so dying and ready to get back to the gym.”
The movies were also a welcomed change in the aftermath of filming “The Ultimate Fighter,” which wrapped in early July.
“It was the best thing I could’ve done to kind of shake me out of that post-Ultimate Fighter funk,” Rousey said.
Rousey has drawn her share of media and fan scrutiny for how she came off during the show, but she held nothing back on Thursday in sharing her feelings about the experience.
“I think, just afterward, our whole team, we were just really mistreated and were really disrespected by the whole production staff,” said Rousey, whose coaching staff consisted of Tarverdyan, Andy Dermenjian, Manny Gamburyan and Marina Shafir. “Everyone was constantly being instigated and manipulated to get the most dramatic response.
“We were just constantly being poked and prodded. … All of us really left with a sour taste in our mouths.”
As for the show changing viewers’ perception of her, Rousey is conscious of that, but seemingly is not phased.
“They edited as they pleased,” Rousey said. “They needed a villain and they made me fill that roll and that’s fine.”
Adding that she wasn’t there with any agenda to create histrionics or come off any certain way, she said she was there quite simply to be the best coach as possible for her Team Rousey fighters.
“In hindsight, it was a s----- experience and it came off terribly for me. But if you think that ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ was the best opportunity knocking on my door at that time, you’re tripping. It needed to be done for these girls, it needed to be done for the women’s division,” Rousey said. “For Miesha, it was the best opportunity that came along at the time. And it was really important for her to come off as great as possible because that was her moment to do so. Whereas I turned to these kids and I was like, look, ‘I need to make sure that everybody sees this, I need to make sure that everybody loves you, I need to make sure you guys do as good as possible and if it’s a blow to me, I can take the blow. It doesn’t matter for me, I can roll with this one, but I need you guys to do well.’”
Nonetheless, whether Rousey’s popularity or perception has taken a hit, she doesn’t believe anything’s permanent.
“Everyone’s memory’s as long as their Twitter timeline,” Rousey said. “How long ago was Robert Downey Jr. being completely blacklisted from Hollywood and now he’s the No. 1-paid actor?
“There’s no permanent problems.”
In contrast to how Rousey was portrayed by many, Tate has seemingly gained fans due to her portrayal.
However, Rousey was quick to point out that behind the scenes, Team Tate “did every backhanded bulls--- thing on that show,” she said.
Among them, Rousey said former UFC fighter and Tate guest coach Dennis Hallman was brought in to instigate a confrontation with Tarverdyan in the hopes of getting the GFC trainer removed from the show.
“They brought him in to f--- with Edmond so they could kick him off the show and we’d have no head coach,” Rousey said.
In addition, Rousey said that after both teams had agreed with UFC President Dana White to cease with the feuding and pranks, etc., Team Tate persisted.
“They still went and poked and prodded,” Rousey said. “These are the people that are like, ‘Oh we’re so scared for our safety and I think they’re going to hurt us.’ So they’re like these f------ little b---- kids in the classroom that are placating, acting nice to the teacher and then instigating all the other kids when the teacher’s back is turned. So they’re being b------ when the cameras are off and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh we’re such victims’ when the cameras are on.’”
Hence, if the rivalry that began in 2012 had subsided, it has no doubt come to a boiling point that will come to a head on Dec. 28.
“When she walked onto the show, I shook her hand,” Rousey said. “When she walked off the show, I flipped her off.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun