NEW YORK – It was a bittersweet feeling for UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey to watch Miesha Tate lose to Cat Zingano at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale.
“I was a little disappointed, to be honest,” Rousey said Wednesday at a fan gathering sponsored by her new sponsor, MetroPCS.
As you probably know, Rousey (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) isn’t much of a Tate (13-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) fan, even after badly damaging her arm with an armbar and taking her title more than a year ago in the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion.
For Tate, the feelings are pretty much mutual.
But because Zingano(8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) won a title eliminator at the reality show finale earlier this month, Rousey, who was crowned the UFC champ after Strikeforce folded, will meet her at the conclusion of “The Ultimate Fighter 18,” where they’re set to coach opposing squads of up-and-coming men and women. The end-of-season fight will serve as Rousey’s second title defense after a first-round submission of Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 in February.
But Rousey is convinced she’ll meet Tate again, and not because the UFC’s sole women’s division is relatively shallow, which could shorten the time it takes to become a contender.
“I think because of the demand, it’s going to end up happening anyway because so many people want to see that fight again,” Rousey told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
When they headlined a March 2012 card in Columbus, Ohio, Rousey and Tate drew interest not seen in women’s MMA since a headliner between Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos three years ago under the Strikeforce banner. The event not only drew an average of 431,000 Showtime viewers, but it scored 25 percent higher than a male-headlined card two months prior.
Rousey’s star-making performance was a catalyst for UFC President Dana White’s decision to let women compete in the UFC. Without the rivalry, however, the fight might not have been as impactful.
“A lot of people keep telling me that was their favorite fight so far, and just me and Miesha personally, I think we just like fighting each other because we don’t like each other very much,” Rousey said.
No bad blood exits at the moment between Zingano and Rousey, who praised her next upcoming opponent at the same time she admitted to her letdown.
But there’s still time yet.
“Cat is an amazing fighter, and she did an amazing job,” Rousey said. “I don’t want to take anything away from her. It was one of those fights. I thought Miesha was doing really well, but it ended up in Cat’s favor, and all respect to her.”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Ronda Rousey)