In a matter of days, Ronda Rousey will once again attempt to live up to the hype.
For what has been a relatively short professional career sparked by unparalleled Judo skills, Rousey has been exceeding in-cage expectations and public responsibilities every step of the way.
Blessed with world-class talent and ungodly public moxie, "Rowdy" has been every bit of the UFC's women's bantamweight champion.
Come Saturday, she'll be forced to fend off yet another hungry contender. This time, it will be a familiar face.
As one of the biggest stars gears up for one of the biggest rematches of the past few years, she'll be forced to out-smart and out-hustle top contender Miesha Tate to the absolute bitter end.
Here are three trying questions that Rousey must answer to remain a mixed martial arts queen:
Can she stand with Tate?
As good as Rousey is on the ground—and boy is she sensational—she's the type of fighter that works on absolutely everything.
From wrestling to boxing, the 26-year-old phenom tries to improve on all levels. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise if she opts to test Tate's striking early in the fight.
It's not like Rousey isn't skilled enough to swarm an enemy on the feet—even a bruiser like "Cupcake"—it's just that she's never really done it.
The fact that Tate is the type of fighter to come out guns blazing makes it that much more interesting. She's been ready to punch Rousey straight in the face since she was left with no belt and a broken arm back in 2012.
Will her grappling play a role early?
Seven straight first-round armbars speaks for itself, but the fact that Rousey has pulled them off against some the best fighters in the world makes you wonder if superpowers are actually possible.
In reality, they aren't. However, if Rousey once again gets it done by her patented submission, the MMA world may come crashing down.
That's why it's going to be key for Tate to keep this fight standing until she's able to pressure the champ into making a mistake. After all, if Rousey is given time to execute, she'll snap limbs at will.
I'm sure Tate is going to do everything to ruin Rousey's streak, so this is a question worth keeping an eye on.
Is she capable of a war?
First-round finishes have been Rousey's staple in the sport. She's demolished opponent after opponent by the same move before the first five minutes of the fight tick down.
While that's enormously impressive, it's also very alarming. As a sport built on high motors and overcoming adversity, Rousey hasn't had to display either one through her first seven bouts.
She's essentially the ultimate athlete, but nobody really knows for sure what she's capable of doing if confronted with a situation unsolvable by armbar. Nobody knows what she'll do if Tate drags her into deep waters and forces her to exude all effort.
Until we see it, we won't know. In any case, Saturday should serve as a nice cherry on top of the UFC's scintillating 2013 campaign.
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