Rousey focused on fight at hand

With all the buzz and hype that accompanied Ronda Rousey’s Strikeforce mixed-martial-arts debut, it was rather tepid in comparison to the whirlwind of talking heads and media meet-and-greets that the Glendale-trained grappler has had to deal with as of late.

Ahead of today’s Strikeforce Challengers 20 card at The Pearl at the Palms Casino & Resort, Rousey has found herself at media events for UFC 137, UFC on Fox and attended a red carpet event for the aforementioned Fox event. She’s made radio appearances and talked to print and Internet media members aplenty.

“Fortunately, I think I can handle it perfectly fine,” said Rousey, who will take on Julia Budd in a three-round featherweight (145 pounds) tilt in the co-main event of the Strikeforce card. “Nothing distracts me; If I can fight with nine stitches in my foot from a pit bull biting me, a couple of extra media interviews isn’t gonna distract me.

“This is actually a luxury.”

A luxury because Rousey, who made her Strikeforce debut with a 25-second win over Sarah D’Alelio in August, realizes Strikeforce is behind her becoming a rising star in women’s MMA and the sport, in general, because she’s got the looks, the personality, the toughness and, above all else, the skills.

Those skills — at least as a professional — were first showcased in March of this year, when a professional debuting Rousey defeated veteran Ediane Gomes in just 25 seconds at a King of the Cage event. The quick win came just days after Rousey was breaking up a fight between her dog, Mochi, and her roommate’s dog and sustained a bite on the bottom of her foot that resulted in nine stitches and some careful maneuvering around athletic commission personnel to fight at all.

Now, just shy of eight months later, Rousey is fighting for the second time under the Strikeforce banner — easily the top organization in the world for women’s MMA — with a 3-0 pro record that has lasted all of just 99 seconds of total cage time.

“I just want to go in there and win in the most exciting way possible,” said Rousey, who was also 3-0 in the amateur ranks with a combined fight time of less than two minutes.

Rousey’s resume also includes the fact that all six of her total fights have ended via armbar submission after an illustrious judo career in which she was the youngest Olympian on the United States judo team in 2004 before becoming the first-ever North American woman to win a medal in the sport when she took bronze in the 2008 Olympics.

Budd (2-1) has a striking background with an 8-1 record in muay Thai and a 3-0 record in boxing with all three of her MMA fights coming for Strikeforce.

In Budd’s last fight, a three-round unanimous decision over fellow kickboxer Germaine de Randamie, she used takedowns to secure the decision, but it’s a safe bet that she will not take the same approach against Rousey.

“You gotta take every opponent as they are, [going to the ground is] her specialty,” Budd said. “My biggest advantages I’d say is my striking and I’d say my experience, just my experience in MMA alone.”

Despite the striking past of Budd, Rousey and her striking trainer, Glendale Fighting Club’s Edmond Tarverdyan, believe the 24-year-old Rousey’s stand-up game has progressed past the 28-year-old Budd’s.

“Ronda is in top shape,” Tarverdyan said. “Her stand-up game is good. I would say it’s better than [her opponent’s], but that’s not our game plan.”

Rousey agreed on both counts.

“I do think my striking is better than hers, but I still think that judo is always gonna be my biggest thing,” Rousey said. “I don’t think I need to go in there and show [that my striking’s better], I think it’s an unnecessary risk. Obviously, if it comes down to that, I’ll be prepared.”

Thus, the fight could very well come down to whether Budd can keep it standing and prove that her stand-up is superior. But Rousey certainly has other plans and a pedigree that backs them up.

“I assume she’ll try and keep me at a distance, but I’ve been training my entire career on how to close distance against strikers that are gonna try and keep me away,” Rousey said.
And while all of Rousey’s bouts have been ultra-quick and ultra-impressive, Budd believes her experience going deeper into fights could pay dividends.

“I know she’s prepared to go 15 minutes, as well,” Budd said. “But once you get in there, there’s a big difference.”

Nevertheless, going into the bout, just like a cavalcade of buzz has accompanied Rousey, so too has the notion that she is an overwhelming favorite. Though Budd is ranked sixth in the latest Unified Women’s Mixed Martial Arts Rankings and Rousey is ninth, the odds have Rousey as a 6-1 favorite.

“All my fights have always been like that, even in muay Thai [kickboxing], I’ve kind of always been the underdog and I like that,” Budd said.

And Budd sees the bout as a huge opportunity in more ways than one.

“I see it as a big opportunity,” Budd said. “I see it as a big opportunity for both of us to show off women’s MMA and put on a show.”

For Rousey, though, she’s been showing off women’s MMA for weeks leading up to Friday. Now it’s her opportunity to once again show off what all the buzz has been about and, thus far in her burgeoning career, she hasn’t disappointed.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World