Though often perceived as doing otherwise, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey tends to give her opponents ample respect in the lead-up to their clashes.
Though she’s drawn headlines for her rivalries and ill words as they pertain to former foe Miesha Tate and Cris “Cyborg” Santos, a longtime speculated future opponent, more often than not, Rousey has been complimentary about her upcoming opponents.
That’s clearly the case in the last days leading up to Rousey’s defense of her UFC women’s bantamweight championship Saturday in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay at UFC 175 against Alexis Davis, ranked No. 2 in the UFC rankings.
“Alexis is definitely the most well-rounded fighter I’ve ever come up against, she’s one of the most experienced and I think her coaching is one of the best I’ve ever come up against,” Rousey, who trains under Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club, said in Monday’s UFC conference call. “And so, I think the greatest challenge is whatever tools she does have, she’ll use them in the most intelligent way possible and being so well-rounded she has a lot of tools to pick from.”
Davis (16-5) owns black belts in Brazilian and Japanese jiu jitsu, is a well-versed muay Thai striker and has been training her wrestling game with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, which features the likes of men’s bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, the UFC featherweight No. 1 contender.
While Davis admitted it’s always nice to get a compliment, it hardly changes her training or mindset as she looks to be the first to defeat Rousey (9-0), a former United States Olympic bronze medalist in judo who has finished off all nine of her pro opponents and is defending her UFC belt for the fourth time.
“I guess it doesn’t really affect my approach to the fight,” Davis said Monday. “It’s always great to hear positive things about yourself, but like I said, a fight’s a fight.”
Like Rousey, Davis has also won three fights under the UFC banner, but while Rousey has won each of her bouts inside three rounds, Davis has gone to a decision in each of hers. Earning a reputation as a grinder coupled with her soft-spoken nature hasn’t done much to feed the hype surrounding Davis.
Hence, despite the Canadian finally getting her title opportunity, many in the media have shown more interest in asking Rousey about possible future bouts with Gina Carano — regarded by most as the biggest superstar in women’s mixed martial arts before Rousey came along and Carano stepped away roughly five years ago — and Cyborg.
Davis is hardly offended or distracted, however.
“To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me,” she said. “I’m going to train the same way I’m going to train regardless of if they’re talking about me. It’s all fine because when you step in the octagon, what’s gonna happen is what’s gonna happen regardless of what people say.”
For that matter, Rousey, who was at a UFC luncheon Friday with a cavalcade of reporters before answering some of the same questions for Monday’s conference call, doesn’t let it fluster her either.
“I’m used to way more fantastical distractions than a couple different questions,” Rousey said. “It’s actually kind of nice to get a couple different questions.”
As for the most pressing question of whether Davis, a sizable underdog, can upset Rousey, the reigning queen of the UFC, that will be answered Saturday.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.