No matter what happens at UFC 168 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday, Ronda Rousey can only break even in the court of public opinion. Her reputation has taken a hit because of the way she came off during The Ultimate Fighter 18. Because of this, some are rooting for Miesha "Cupcake" Tate to hand the UFC women's bantamweight champion her first loss.
For what it's worth, Tate beat Rousey in the first round of the EA Sports UFC video game cover vote.
Rousey already beat Tate where it matters most—in the Octagon—in 2012 when the two were still in Strikeforce.
Odds are, Rousey will wrap Tate up again and force her to tap via the armbar on Saturday. Tate's takedown defense has never been very good. Per FightMetric.com, she's only defended 20 percent of the takedowns attempted against her. If you can't defend the takedown, you're probably not going to beat Rousey.
If Rousey does indeed defeat Tate again, no one will be surprised, or impressed. This is a fight she is expected to win. If she loses, critics will say Rousey is buckling under the pressure of carrying the mantle for women's MMA. That could very well be true.
Rousey's personality isn't one that is best suited for the type of attention she gets. She's moody, abrasive and politically incorrect. She's always a slip of the tongue away from being in hot water with the UFC or sponsors. The more she wins, the more intense the pressure and scrutiny will be.
It seems that Rousey may be tiring of the spotlight—at least the negative aspects of it—but she feels she has an obligation to carry the sport for her gender through its formative years. According to Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, she has said she won't quit and leave the sport hanging like Gina Carano did.
Funny thing is, it seems like she has an inclination to do just that. When you're used to saying what you want, when you want, it's difficult when you have to watch your mouth.
Beating Tate only extends this existence and increases the haters' desire to see her fall.
If Tate somehow finds a way to beat her, then things really get rough for Rousey. As popular as she's become, she still hasn't carried women's MMA to a safe place in America's consciousness. If Rousey fades now, there is no other woman—Tate included—capable of being the transcendent star the sport still needs.
Rousey would then be a flash in the pan to some. Her confidence and pride could be shaken to its core. Losing is hard enough, but losing to someone you detest is another thing altogether.
I honestly don't think Rousey would care about losing in general. In a way, it would create a sense of relief for her. That said, I'm almost positive she doesn't want it to be at the hands of Tate.
Guess she'll just have to chase the lesser of two evils and make Cupcake tap out again.
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