LAS VEGAS — Ronda Rousey at times was deeply embroiled in combat Saturday night against her hated rival Miesha Tate, but the discomfort did not rise to the level of being hurt.
“I was obviously not hurt or they wouldn’t be putting me in another fight so quickly,” Rousey said late Saturday at the MGM Grand.
After Rousey (8-0) withstood a gritty effort by Tate that concluded with Rousey winning again by armbar, this time in the third round instead of the first as in last year's initial meeting, UFC President Dana White announced that Rousey would defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title Feb. 22.
Rousey will fight Maryland’s Sara McMann (7-0), a 2004 Olympic silver-medalist wrestler, in the main event of UFC 170 at the MGM Grand.
White had discussed the idea of a quick turnaround with Venice’s Rousey before the Tate fight.
Rousey hadn’t fought before Saturday since February, when she beat Liz Carmouche in the first UFC women’s fight, at Honda Center. She took a break to appear in the latest “The Expendables” and “The Fast and the Furious” films.
“I’ve taken such a long time off, I want to fight again,” Rousey said. “I’m in the best shape of my life now, so it’s the perfect time to go back, and we’ll put on another good show for you guys very soon. This is what I love to do.”
The card will include a light-heavyweight fight between former champion Rashad Evans and former Strikeforce champion Daniel Cormier. Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones was originally scheduled to defend his belt Feb. 22, but his fight was moved to March 15 in Dallas.
Rousey said fighting Tate following the routine changes and distractions of filming “made it much more difficult. I did it on purpose to make it more of a challenge.”
It was that. Tate came out punching and left Rousey cut under an eye while forcing the champion to rely on her strength to get out of difficult positions, sometimes underneath the challenger.
“My biggest challenge is I’m in a rush, a hurry, I expect to get it done,” said Rousey, who had won her prior seven fights by first-round armbar. “I was still a little antsy in the second. In the third, I was patient, it forced me to focus a lot more. That’s why I finished it.”
In the end, the crowd viciously booed Rousey for not accepting an extended handshake from Tate. Rousey said she remains upset at Tate for disrespecting two members of her team on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality-television series they filmed together.
“It’s the price of the role I was in,” Rousey said. “When she formally apologizes to my coaches and they accept it, I’ll shake her hand. She’s a great fighter, she had my respect, but she needs to make up for the things she’s done.”
Rousey said “staying self-motivated” to fight Tate was the most difficult challenge of filming, as she ran stairs and the mountains of Bulgaria alone at times while also working out with “Expendables” co-star Victor Ortiz.
She relied on a six-week camp in Glendale for Tate, and will repeat that for McMann, 33, who made her UFC debut in April with a first-round technical knockout of Sheila Gaff.
Tate late Saturday said she doesn’t know what the future holds after trying to beat MMA’s top female fighter.
“I picked Mt. Everest and didn’t quite make it to the top,” Tate said.