Ronda Rousey often has fantasies of her Rocky 4 moment, of marching straight into enemy territory and silencing an arena full of foreigners by taking out their local hero. She assumed UFC 190 would be her chance. Undefeated challenger Bethe Correia was born and raised in Brazil, after all, so it wouldn't be a leap to think the fight faithful in Rio de Janeiro would support their own.
And they have, for the most part. But they've also supported Rousey -- perhaps even more.
"I was cautiously optimistic," Rousey said Wednesday after receiving a raucous reception at UFC 190's open workouts. "Like, I wouldn't get mad if everybody came out here and they booed me. But I have to admit, it really warms my heart a lot to get such a warm reception from people who I respect so much.
"I would understand if I walk out on Saturday and everyone boos me at the top of their lungs. I would still be happy that they would care that much. But I mean, it just really warms my heart, the kind of reception that I've gotten here. I just try my best to deserve it."
Rousey's fight week welcome isn't particularly surprising. Considering her flawless 11-0 career record, and a highlight reel that already rivals the greats in MMA, the former Olympian's ascent into one of the sport's biggest stars has been as destructive as it has been swift.
She received similar support from the Brazilian fans at UFC 190's announcement press conference in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year, and despite treading into what many assumed to be enemy territory, Rousey is expected to enter her match against Correia as one of the biggest favorites in UFC history, largely because of Correia's inexperience and the ridiculous trail of devastation Rousey has left in her wake.
The prevailing thought is that Rousey can stop Correia just as quickly. Rousey, though, has maintained all along that she wants to extend Correia's suffering -- punishment for all of the perceived slights and bad blood that have been traded in UFC 190's lead-up.
"There's no such thing as an easy finish, and the thing is, a lot of times when I'm going for a really fast finish, I'm taking a lot more risks," Rousey said. "I'm skipping steps. So if I'm actually more thorough and I take my time, it'll actually be a safer and less risky approach and she'll be softened up a lot more by the time I get there.
"Bethe did have one thing right," Rousey added. "She said that the Brazilian people deserve to have the belt left here. So I've decided that after I win it, I'm going to make sure that when I have the belt, I don't take it home with me. I'm going to give it and make sure that it stays someplace in Brazil as my gift."