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Ronda Rousey on staredowns: Liz Carmouche 'really f----- with me'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS - UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has mastered the art of the staredown.

Rousey, who has trained with the Diaz brothers, can mean-mug with the best of them, which was on display in an intense staredown between Rousey and her next challenger, Cat Zingano, at last week's "The Time is Now" press event.

But Rousey is willing to admit that one of her opponent's staredowns actually threw her off her game: Liz Carmouche, her opponent at UFC 157 in the first women's fight in UFC history.

"You know who was the smartest ever, to really f-- with me in the staredown? Liz Carmouche," Rousey told reporters. "I've had girls try to get in my face, I've had girls try to smirk with me, stuff like that. Liz Carmouche just started spitting game right then. I was totally distracted."

Rousey demurred on the specific words exchanged, but offered a few clues.

"Well, I don't want her girlfriend to get mad at me or anything," Rousey said. "Let's just say it was the most thrown off I've ever been."

The champ tries not to read too much into the staredowns during promotional tours, but she insists the fight-week photo ops are serious business.

"I don't try to psychologically break the other person down," Rousey said. "I remember Miesha [Tate] was like ‘Ronda's shaking and she blinks too much and she's scared of me.' I'm like, ‘yeah, go back to Psych 101, b--.' So no, I don't really go try to break the other person down. It's mostly there for promotional value, especially for a press conference that is so far out before the fight. It's more of a media thing than a fight thing. When it comes down to fight week, then you really, you learn a lot about the other person."

Rousey was asked what would happen if she found herself in a situation like the Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier brawl over the summer during a press conference in the lobby of Las Vegas' MGM Grand hotel.

"I can't say I would react well," Rousey said. "Miesha tried to put her forehead on me and ended up with a big red dent in her forehead. No one has really tried anything since. But I don't know. I try not to manifest situations that wouldn't work out well for me because it doesn't look good for the sport, doesn't look good for me personally, and I think the benefits of that are very short term and I try to think of the longer big picture most of the time. ... I get paid to fight on [February] 28th. Before that it only costs me money.

And besides, if Carmouche, who nearly submitted Rousey in the closest call of her title reign before losing in the waning seconds of the opening round, couldn't goad Rousey into a brawl before the fight, it's likely no one can.

"Liz, I think she started singing her own walkout song and she started to dance and everything and I was like I can't, I have no previous information on the subject, no knowledge of how to react to this. So no, that was the most effective staredown ever."