By most accounts, Ronda Rousey's 34-second knockout of Bethe Correia at UFC 190 was thoroughly satisfying for the victor, as Rousey settled the score with a woman who insulted her friends and family all throughout the leadup to the fight.
But according to Rousey's mentor, "Judo" Gene LeBell, the UFC women's bantamweight champion left Brazil feeling like she had left a little something on the table.
"I think she was a little disappointed," the 83-year-old LeBell said on a recent edition of The MMA hour. "She wanted to beat this gal up, and she said, ‘I wasn't through, I wanted to break something, an arm or a leg or neck'. But John McCarthy broke it up because she was unconscious. But she said, ‘well, I proved a point.' She's happy, so I'm happy."
LeBell, a legendary judoka, has spent a lifetime around combat sports, and participated in what was considered a mixed martial arts fight decades before the term was coined. He remains active in the sport today as a judge with the California State Athletic Commission.
Like most everyone else with even a passing interest in MMA, LeBell finds himself caught up in the talk about who Rousey should fight next: Cyborg Justino or Miesha Tate.
"Cyborg is a great, great fighter, probably the third-best in the world in women's fighters," Lebell said. Ronda of course is the best, Miesha Tate is the second best. I'd like to see Miesha Tate fight Cyborg without steroids. Cyborg is a great fighter, but she's not in Ronda's class."
Ultimately, LeBell thinks Rousey would have her way with Cyborg, should the fight ever get made.
"Cyborg is extremely physically strong. She's a good fighter," LeBell said. "I might sound prejudiced, but if it took [Rousey] three rounds, that's okay. I think she would dominate her entirely. That isn't taking her away from her."
Last weekend was filled with mixed emotions for LeBell, as he rejoiced in Rousey's victory, but also had to cope with the loss of longtime friend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The LeBell family promoted professional wrestling at the famed Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles for decades, and Piper got his first real break in wrestling headlining the building in the late 1970s.
"He was wrestling professionally at 16, when you're supposed to be 18. He worked out with me for 30 years," LeBell said. "He wanted to really be able to wrestle, and he was, in my opinion, not only a great showman, but one of the best real wrestler who ever stepped into the squared circle. This man can box, wrestle, finishing holds, he could do everything, I even got him into motorcycle racing. Whatever he did, he was the best. Great guy."
Their friendship led to Piper giving permission to Rousey to use the "Rowdy" nickname, which Piper had trademarked.
"Ronda said ‘I want to use name Rowdy', and Roddy Piper had it trademarked, so we got a hold of Roddy, and he said, ‘you can use my name or anything else you want,'" LeBell said. "That's the kind of guy he was. Ronda still uses name ‘Rowdy Ronda Rousey.' Tears came to my eyes when she announced after the fight I'm dedicating the fight to my friend ‘Rowdy' Roddy Piper."
While LeBell has always knew Rousey had the talent and the desire to make it big, even he, as someone who has seen it all, is a little surprised by how fast things have taken off.
"I am so pleased," LeBell said. "From four years ago, not having hardly money to put in her car, and she spent a little time living in her car. If you read her book, she's been on both sides of road. Nobody, no one deserves the accolades as much as she does, she works at it. When you talk to her, she looks you right in the eyes and she listens. She's the most dedicated student or person that's ever got on the mat with me. There's no break or timeout, let's go get a sandwich. It's all business in anything she does."