While the reigning Women's Bantamweight Champion remains one of the most popular fighters in the company, she's beginning to undergo what would be considered a heel turn in professional wrestling or perhaps has already entered into that territory for some.
There was a time when Rousey was a refreshing face. Now, she has been featured on so many different television shows and magazine covers that she's been overexposed to the sporting public. Fans are getting sick of seeing her face everywhere they look.
It's happened to plenty of celebrities and athletes before, plenty of whom aren't even that good to begin with (see Tebow, Tim).
Coaching a team against Tate on The Ultimate Fighter did nothing to present Rousey in a good light or help her public image.
However, she accused the show of splicing together clips in order to fit the narrative, via Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times:
We were really mistreated and really disrespected by the whole production staff. Everyone was constantly being instigated and manipulated to get the most dramatic response. … Constantly poked and prodded, like we weren’t even people. … It left a sour taste in my mouth.
They edited as they pleased. They needed a villain and they made me fill that role. … It came off terribly for me.
Rather than using her words to change the public's perception, Rousey instead needs to dispatch Tate with ease. Nothing turns fans around quicker than seeing a great athlete be great.
Gareth A. Davies of FoxSports.com illustrated how fickle UFC fans can be:
Look at Jon Jones. He gets a strange rap from the UFC fan base. Jones told me not long after he became light heavyweight champion how he applies the “10-80-10 rule”, and never departs from it.
His theory is this: 10 percent of fans will hate him no matter what; another 10 percent will follow him devotedly even if he went on a lay-and-pray streak and sent a series of arenas into slumber. The remaining 80 percent, he reckons, swim with the tide. Pretty wise theory.
And I’ll wager it holds true. Ever recall a fighter being booed into the Octagon, and then cheered out of it, or cheered as they come back and rescue a victory from the throes of defeat?
Those Coliseum moments which draw us all in, when a baying crowd turns, and the heel leaves as hero, are legion in MMA.
What drew so many people to Rousey was the way in which she won fights. It didn't hurt that she's a female athlete who happens to be beautiful, but that only gets you so far for so long (see Patrick, Danica). In order to keep fans interested, you have to be good, and there's no doubt about Rousey's talent.
None of her seven fights has gone past the first round, and each of which was ended when she slapped on the armbar.
On Saturday night, Rousey has the chance to make everyone remember what was so awesome about her in the first place—her talent. Watching Rousey is like watching any other great athlete at the peak of their powers.
It's similar to what you see with Floyd Mayweather. You may not like the way he constantly flaunts his wealth, but you have to respect the guy for how he's continued to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He talks a big game, but he backs it up.
The more Rousey fights, and more importantly wins, the less people will care about what kind of person she is. Beating Tate will help turn everybody back around and get the narrative back to how great Rousey is in the Octagon and not whether she's a saint outside of it.