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Two days after defeating Miesha Tate to win the Strikeforce women's bantamweight championship, Ronda Rousey was all smiles and laughs. On the road to New York, she received a congratulatory phone call from UFC president Dana White. Her mentor "Judo" Gene LeBell said that Rousey had signed 2,000 autographs in the hours after winning. And after a strict diet on the road to making 135 pounds for the first time, Rousey had celebrated by downing a couple of boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
Yes, life is good for Rousey, whose biggest problem right now is recovering from all of the excitement.
"I've been not moving as much as possible," Rousey said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "It's just been so tiring not just physically but mentally. I just feel like I've been tense and holding my shoulders higher or something like that for months on end, and I finally just have just tons of relaxation and I really just don't want to move. So I'm very relaxed. It feels very relaxing to be champion."
As she has in all of her five pro fights thus far, Rousey won the bout via first-round arm bar after months of talk exchanged between the pair. Things may have reached their apex in intensity on the night before the fight, when Tate's boyfriend, UFC lightweight Bryan Caraway, tweeted "if [Rousey] wants to challenge a man I'll knock her teeth dwn (sic) her throat the (sic) break her arm!"
Caraway eventually deleted the tweet but even following the fight, there appears to be no love lost between the Rousey and Tate camps.
"It’s a free country, you can say whatever you want," Rousey said. "He’s probably not that smart. I mean, what a way to make yourself look like a retard, to say women can't compete with men on the same level in any sport, and to say he wanted to knock my teeth down my throat. I don't think he needs to be reprimanded because I think anyone that saw that has reprimanded him enough. He's done enough harm on his own making himself look like an idiot that I don't think anyone else needs to step in."
Asked about the sentiment behind Caraway's tweet, that she could not compete with a man, Rousey laughed.
"Of course I can, dude," she said. "Who is he? You never heard of him if it wasn’t for Miesha. He's just some dude. He's not even like a legit fighter. He's just some random guy that likes fighting."
As far as the fight itself, Rousey acknowledged that she was surprised by Tate's aggressive strategy, coming out with a flurry at the opening bell. But Rousey said she wasn't hurt by any of the strikes during the exchange.
She also noted she wasn't frustrated by Tate escaping from her first armbar attempt, saying she realized in the moment that she never truly secured it. She later sunk in a fight-ending armbar that bent Tate's arm at a gruesome angle. Tate told MMA Fighting on Sunday that she didn't' suffer a break, but must still undergo an MRI to check for further damage.
Referee Mark Matheny has taken some fire for letting the fight continue to the point Tate's arm was in danger, but Rousey said he made the right call.
"He was trying to respect her and her choice, and she was choosing to let it go," she said. "She could’ve given up at anytime. If he stopped it sooner, they would have said, 'Oh he stopped it before she tapped.' Anything we do in that kind of situation, people are going to find a way to criticize."
Perhaps one day in the future, the two will rematch and the feud will be ignited again, but for now Rousey is going to enjoy the moment and her newfound celebrity. She had originally set out to bring attention not only to herself, but also to the women of the sport, and there's no denying she did that.
"That was one of my goals when I started women’s MMA," she said. "I knew that there was a danger of it falling into obscurity. I wanted to do all that and rejuvenate the whole sport. I'm glad that it’s catching on and that I’m actually able to have an impact."
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