Christmas cheer won't resonate for Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey and Miesha "Cupcake" Tate long past the holiday, with no shortage of compelling storylines heading into the UFC 168 co-main event and Women's Bantamweight Championship on Saturday, Dec. 28.
While the main event of Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman will be the final match of the card, the anticipation has mounted for this epic women's clash that will carry huge implications as to who will be more of a female face of the sport moving forward.
There's an enticing past between these two fighters, and it's safe to say that both Rousey and Tate are licking their chops at the opportunities available on Saturday, Dec. 28.
Let's take a look at the biggest storylines surrounding Rousey vs. Tate heading into the rematch.
Why Can't We Be Friends?
A one-sided match in their first fight. A season of a television show centered around their rivalry. A bar fight surrounding one fighter hitting on the other's boyfriend on said TV show. Spiteful, personal jabs flying back and forth.
Could this get any juicier?
After their first bout—a Rousey submission in the first round—the two agreed to do Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter to promote this very fight. And as you can see in this Fox Sports video, Rousey got a little too touchy with Tate's guy at the bar one night before things got physical.
Tate has thrown plenty of words around, including her own blog post on Yahoo! Sports where she rips her arch-rival for the bar incident.
Rousey, notoriously feisty and headline-prone in her own right, wasn't done talking in the days before Saturday's fight as you can see below.
On nearly every occasion possible, these two fighters have made their displeasure with the other quite obvious. And to say that it's only gotten more personal and fierce since their first bout would be a vast understatement.
Big words and animosity for the opponent is nothing new in boxing and martial arts. But it's apparent that the Rousey-Tate rivalry goes well beyond simply fighting.
Will Tate Make it to Round 2?
Tate's nickname of "Cupcake" isn't supposed to represent her as an easy win for her opponent, but that's just what she was in her first bout with Rousey.
Tate made it 4:27 into the opening round of the fight before succumbing to Rousey, who landed her unavoidable arm bar that has taken so many victims, effectively ending the fight with a first-round submission.
It's not a coincidence that Rousey took care of Tate in the first round. In fact, it's the only victory Rousey knows—each of her seven career victories were first-round submissions.
Cupcake nearly made it to the second round in their first affair, something that Rousey has never seen her opponent do. If she can make it to her corner after the first five minutes, it will be a huge statement.
We've never seen Rousey fight in the second round before. If she exerts too much energy going for the early submission and fails to land it, Tate's chances of winning go from minuscule to very possible.
How Much Will Fight Help Women's UFC Popularity?
There may have been bigger fights for women's martial arts in recent history, but it's undeniable that the Saturday, Dec. 28 showdown could have a huge effect on the popularity of the sport among females.
Women's MMA fighting is usually saved for Strikeforce and Invicta FC, but it's gained a large amount of popularity since Rousey appeared in the first women's UFC fight ever earlier in 2013. That has only set the stage for this fight, which should continue to increase popularity.
Dana White and company wasted little time cashing in even more on the women's side of the sport. According to USA Today's MMA Junkie, UFC added a "strawweight" after signing 11 fighters from Invicta in a marquee move for the state of women's martial arts.
Strawweight is now the second women's division after bantamweight, the title that Rousey will hope to defend from Tate on Saturday, Dec. 28.
Rousey has been the face of women's MMA, and there's no shortage of excitement heading into a bout that is co-main event with perhaps the men's fiercest division. It's set up to be a huge moment for the future of women's UFC.
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