The UFC kicked off a multi-city international press tour this week with a laundry list of the company's best fighters who will be featured in the biggest pay-per-views for the next few months.
On Tuesday, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former title-holder Junior dos Santos, light heavyweight king Jon Jones, top contender Alexander Gustafsson, welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and No. 1 ranked welterweight Johny Hendricks all took to the dais to answer questions from the media about their upcoming fights.
While all of the champions and challengers appeared to be fairly cordial throughout the process despite talking about knocking each other out, there was one pairing where the tension was so thick, it could be cut by a knife.
Miesha Tate and UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will share space with the other top fighters during this media tour.
It's safe to say they won't be shaking hands or hugging after any photo opportunities.
There's always been an uneasy discourse between the two women's fighters ever since Rousey called out Tate following a fight in 2011, when she was the Strikeforce 135-pound champion.
Now more than a year later, with the two fighters ready to promote a season of The Ultimate Fighter that will lead into their fight on December 28 at UFC 168, Rousey and Tate's hatred is already reaching a fevered pitch.
"How is it not a rivalry? I have everything that she wants in life," Rousey answered when asked about the status of her rivalry with Tate.
Tate could only lean back in her chair with an uneasy feeling and smirk back at the confident champion who got the best of her in their first fight in 2012. For her part, Tate says the rivalry with Rousey isn't about the championship or even revenge for the loss she has to her—it's about respect.
"She has a lot of things I want, but that's not what makes it a rivalry for me. It's the level of disrespect that I've always felt, and that's what makes it personal," Tate stated. "I've faced a lot of people, I would say probably everybody but Ronda that I don't have any beef with and have a tremendous amount of respect. She just has a way of irritating me, and vice versa, so that's where I think the rivalry comes in."
Stuck together on this tour for the next several days, Rousey and Tate will do their best to avoid one another outside of the moments when they have to come face to face. UFC president Dana White even said that while all of the other competitors could be trusted to be around each other without an incident happening, the same couldn't be said for Rousey and Tate.
The two women fighters have been connected in some way for the better part of two years now, and it's just something they've had to get used to dealing with. But don't ever expect to see them grimacing at each other on stage and them smiling when the cameras are off.
Rousey and Tate are scowling at each other any time they are in close proximity.
"We've been involved with each other enough that we kind of have a rhythm of how we deal with each other. She mostly just doesn't look me in the eye or talk to me a lot of the time," Rousey said about Tate. "Which I like to relate to Mike Tyson's speech about seeing the chink in the armor when your opponent won't look you in the eye, and that's pretty much how it goes all the time."
Rousey's statement brought a lot of "ooh's and ahh's" from the Los Angeles crowd. Even Jon Jones, who was sitting at the table, was joining in on the action and said that he will have a front-row seat for this fight.
For her part, Tate says Rousey's impression of their interactions wasn't true.
"That's not what happened backstage," Tate said.
When the press conference ended, all of the fighters were brought up one pair at a time to square off for photographers. Gustafsson did his best mean mug when staring back at Jones, and Hendricks even flexed his muscles a bit when facing off with St-Pierre, but nothing topped what the ladies brought to the table.
With White standing guard in the middle, Rousey and Tate faced off. There was an uncomfortable disdain between the two fighters. As they separated, Rousey quickly shot her middle finger at Tate without ever saying a word.
After all the fake beefs that happen in MMA to help sell a fight, Rousey and Tate are certainly proving that their rivalry is as real as it gets.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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