Ronda Rousey is just as eager as everyone else to watch Holly Holm tangle with Miesha Tate at UFC 196 Saturday in Las Vegas. And it’s essentially for the same exact reason that’s put the mixed martial arts world on the edge of its seat for the last five months: Rousey vs. Holm II.
The former undefeated UFC women’s bantamweight champion endured the first loss of her career to the skilled boxer Holm in November, a stunning upset punctuated by Holm’s devastating kick to Rousey’s temple that sent the superstar crashing back to earth and even allowed suicidal thoughts to creep into her mind.
But Rousey’s training and back on track and she told TMZ earlier this week that she’s actually hoping Holm can earn her first title defense, albeit for her own gain.
“They’re gonna go fight first, so we’ll see what happens,” Rousey said. “I need [Holm] to win. I want to be the one to beat her. I don’t want anyone to take the honor of beating her besides myself.”
Holm originally wanted to step back into the octagon for a rematch with Rousey as soon as possible, but the injuries Rousey sustained during the bout and her complicated schedule as a Hollywood action star cut short the chance of an immediate follow up.
Not to mention UFC president Dana White hoping to stretch out the hype in order to build up what could be a record-setting pay-per-view night for a sport that’s struggled to find bankable stars of late.
Rousey’s stated reason certainly makes sense on the surface, but there’s likely more at play here. Every fighter wants to tag back an opponent after a loss, thus evening the score and potentially regaining the belt they believe is rightfully theirs.
But for Rousey, dropping Holm would silence critics and put her back on top of the UFC and the fight game from a mental standpoint as well. Before the loss, Rousey’s star seemed destined to reach a stratosphere very few UFC fighters have ever breathed and her acting, modeling, and endorsement careers correlated perfectly to make her one of the most recognizable and beloved athletes in the world.
Today, some might say Rousey’s career is running on fumes and will continue to do so until she can claim back her title and prove she’s a superior fighter to Holm.
And Tate, who’s lost to Rousey twice before via that patented armbar submission and has said publicly several times that she dislikes her, even wants to see Rousey-Holm II.
“I’m interested to see the rematch as well,” Tate told USA Today on Monday. “I thought the first fight was fascinating, and I’m curious to see what adjustments would be made on Ronda’s side, if any, and if Holly can do it again.”
Except Tate won’t allow Rousey the perfect rematch she so desires.
“If that’s what she wants, sorry, but I’m going to ruin that for her,” Tate said, adding that a rematch might take place while Tate holds the championship belt.
“If they want to make that rematch happen, that’s how I see it going down because on Saturday I’m going to go in there, and I’m confident that I’m going to win the belt.
“So they’re definitely going to have to adjust the game plan. I would like to see Holly and Ronda fight again, but it just may not be for the belt.”