Ronda Rousey: Miesha Tate has to talk me down to believe she can win

USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Ronda Rousey looks back at the fight which put her on the map -- her victory over Miesha Tate early last year to claim the Strikeforce title -- and she can barely recognize the fighter she sees.

"If I fought the me who fought Miesha then, I'd beat the s--- out of her," the UFC women's bantamweight champion said at a downtown media luncheon Thursday.

"I made different mistakes then that I never would now," Rousey said. "I was in a rush to get the title shot because I was broke."

So when Tate, who meets Rousey in their rematch in the co-main event of UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas, says that the champion "has holes in her game," Rousey isn't sweating it.

"She goes on her interviews and says she's going to finish me in the first round, ‘she has so many holes in her game, blah blah blah,' she tries to talk me down all the time," Rousey said. "She has to convince herself."

Rousey says she contrasts Tate's approach with her own preparation, in which she assumes Tate will come into the fight at the MGM Grand at the top of her game.

"I believe her when she says she's in the best shape of her life," Rousey said. "I believe her when she says her striking is the best in her life, I believe that she can have a perfect game plan and focused her game plan on my weaknesses and everything possible, everything. I assume she is going to be perfect. I'm prepared for a five-round brawl. What she is hoping for is for me to go out there and for me to make a mistake. I expect a whole lot more from her than she expects from me."

Tate isn't Rousey's first choice in opponents. She was expecting to meet Cat Zingano after Zingano defeated Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, before a Zingano knee injury forced her to pull out of her Ultimate Fighter coaching role.

But the undefeated Rousey understands that the rivalry with Tate will help sell pay-per-views. She even admitted that she played up the rivalry leading into their Strikeforce fight, and added it was justified in helping the sport of women's MMA grow.

"I purposely made it into a rivalry because at the time I was up and coming," Rousey said. At the time I was so excited because the ratings were 20 percent better. It was true, people started watching for the spectacle and they stayed around for the athleticism. It peaked out after that Liz Carmouche was an even bigger success."

But she says that time has passed. "I really don't think I need Miesha anymore," said Rousey. "So I'm going to be happy to beat her and never think about her again and be really happy that I never have to be put in a situation where I have to be instigated ever again. It was a necessary evil at the time. Now people know what women's MMA is. I don't think the drama is as much of a necessary evil any more."

Rousey went on to wonder aloud about Tate's career trajectory.

"I would think her best performance of her life was against Marloes [Coenen, a 2011 Strikeforce title defense]," Rousey said. "She had the best performance of her life and then somehow left that camp. I don't know why. From what I've seen from her since, she had a pretty embarrassing performance against [Julie] Kedzie, and somehow pulled it out in the end, and then she lost to Cat Zingano."

As a parting reminder of the way the public views the bout, Rousey pointed at the current Las Vegas odds.

"That's why it's so important to play up the rivalry aspect and the looks aspect," Rousey said. Look at the Vegas odds. It's 10-1. How do you sell that? It's hard to sell a 10-1 fight. You have to look outside the box in how to get people interested in the title fight."

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