Ronda Rousey's bond with Mike Tyson shows in their meeting

At his peak, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson exhibited the same dominance in the boxing ring that Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is experiencing.

As Rousey prepares to defend her title against Brazil’s unbeaten Bethe Correia on August 1 in Rio de Janeiro, Tyson watched Rousey's hour-long workout Wednesday.

“That omnipotent feeling that you can’t lose, it’s just real funny how it is,” Tyson said. “I’ve been doing this since I was 12 and I still don’t understand it. I’ve always wondered, ‘Why when I turned 18 did it click?’ I started beating everybody. Sometimes, I guess, it’s just your time. You’ve put in all the work, the sacrifice, and sometimes it gets to autopilot – the will, the desire – it’s really strange like that.”

When Tyson seized the heavyweight title by knocking out Trevor Berbick in 1986, it was the sixth time in seven fights that he had scored a knockout before the end of the second round.

A year later, successfully defending his belt against Pinklon Thomas, Tyson recorded knockouts in seven of eight fights before losing to James “Buster” Douglas in 1990.

Rousey is 11-0 with 10 first-round stoppages

Her last three title defenses, against Sara McMann, Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano, have lasted a combined 1 minute 36 seconds. Her most recent victory, Feb. 28 at Staples Center, required only 14 seconds before Zingano tapped out.

“Ronda, she’s a lady. Polite, kind, sweet and adorable,” Tyson said. “But her whole barometer [as a fighter] is she’s a killer. ... I think of myself when I watch her.”

As Rousey flipped a male sparring partner to the canvas, Tyson said that “this doesn’t look fun anymore,” to which Rousey replied, “It’s fun to me.”

The two chatted after Rousey’s workout. Tyson, who said he was never a fan of people “gawking” at him during workouts, told Rousey he enjoyed returning home after fights and looking in a mirror with his “belt and the cash.”

Said Rousey: “The first moment you get alone is in the bathroom. You look up in the mirror and go, ‘What happened today? Crazy.”

Rousey boxed during her training session, impressing Tyson.

“She’s doing awesome,” Tyson said. “She’s a beginner, a neophyte, but she excels.”

He looked around the gym and saw several cameras and reporters. UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta and company President Dana White also stopped by.

“How do you stay focused in this?” Tyson said. “You’re only a human being, but how do you not say 'I’m the [best], I am beautiful, I am a God?' If you’re a God, the first thing you’ve got to be able to do is decimate.

“It’s easy for her to have a big head. You have to think you’re the best. There’s no room for doubt in this stuff. But you have to have doubt ... to rise to the next level.”

Rousey said it was “very humbling” to meet Tyson.

“But I’ve got something to accomplish first before I can revel in it all,” Rousey said. “Best camp I’ve ever had. I’m just reaching my peak. I hit the ground running, won my first belt when I was still on my way up. I’m settling into who I am as a fighter now.”

White enjoyed watching the fighters interact.

“Tyson’s like the God of War and everybody calls her the female Tyson ... [she’s] mean, nasty, loves to finish people,” White said. “That 14-second knockout ... that’s why people loved Tyson.”

Rousey clearly enjoyed the exchange but said she had to leave.

“I really have to go. I’ve got to go win some ESPYs,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
67°