Say what you like about MMA, those guys know how to get themselves noticed. When it comes to ramping up the hype, these fighters pack every bit as big a punch as they do in the cage. The Ronda Rousey – Bethe Correia UFC 190 championship bantamweight title showdown fight is still weeks away but already the pair are lighting up Twitter. In fact they’ve just about taken a blow torch to it. The talk has been bitterly personal, more than a little bit brutal and most definitely not in any way ladylike.
Now Rousey is always worth watching. A former Olympic judo bronze medallist (in 2008), star of Furious 7 and Entourage, friend of The Rock and currently undefeated UFC champion, she is widely reckoned to be THE best pound for pound female fighter there has ever been. And she looks good on it, too. It’s a pretty potent combination whichever way you look at it, even if she’s keen to play down the attention her looks attract.
For Brazilian challenger Coreia – affectionately known as ‘The Pitbull’ things are more straightforward. She’s battled her way through to a shot at the title with a 9-0 record in MMA and fighting style that’s based on kung fu and jiu-jitsu. She dishes out a strikes like a machine gun – quite a contrast to Rousey who, as you’d expect from a judo specialist, prefers to get to grips with her opponent as a means to take them down.
The pair have started the sparring early, with Twitter rather than the cage the setting for their early moves. And these ladies don’t always play nice. The credit for kicking things off goes to the challenger who has already proved herself to be every bit as energetic in promoting her fights as she is once the action gets going. In an interview with Brazilian magazine Combate, she didn’t hold anything back when she talked about knocking Rousey clean out and proving, as she put it, that ‘she is a lie’.
This is strong stuff from an outsider. Bookmakers Betfair, who take a keen interest in MMA, make Rousey 1/16 when this article was produced to win the fight and have Correia 1/10 to not even go the distance. But that little flurry was just the start. She then went on to slam Rousey’s past life, her character and her American lifestyle. Like we said, her punches came as a barrage.
— Bethe (@bethecorreia) June 1, 2015
As a backdrop to a no-holds barred fight, this is about as high octane as you could ask for. Whatever happens from here it looks like the showdown on August 1 is going to be personal. And Rousey is not a fighter who ordinarily needs any extra motivation.
Now a cynic might suggest that this whole episode is one big drive to sell the fight. That would be taking cynicism to a whole new level, but there is no denying that the fight is now one of the most keenly awaited contests of the summer. As they say, you do the math!
As for the contest itself, Rousey may be the hot favourite, but her film, modelling and writing commitments are bound to have been a distraction, no matter how hard she says she’s been training. All that rubbing up with the Rock on the red carpet is hardly the sort of preparation you’d expect from someone gearing up for what threatens to be one of the defining fights of their career. In contrast, Correia, who already boasts wins over Rousey teammates Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke, has been focussed 100% on her preparations for the fight – at least when she’s not firing off cheap shots on Twitter that is. The fight will take place on August 1 at the HSBC Arena in Correia’s home town of Rio de Janeiro.