Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight at UFC 190.
This is a mismatch. There’s no way to tiptoe around that unmistakable truth.
That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t watch. The opportunity to see one of the elites in mixed martial arts—or in any sport, or any pursuit—comes along only ever so often. If LeBron and the Cavs are on TV, you’re wise to strongly consider tuning in, even if the opposition is the Timberwolves or Knicks.
And James plays 82 games a year, plus playoffs. The greats in almost all sports—from Manning to Messi, Serena to Crosby—typically perform at least a couple dozen times a year. Ronda Rousey, on the other hand, fights just twice annually. But even when those performances last just 14 seconds, or 16 seconds, or 66 seconds (as has been the case with her last three bouts) “Rowdy Ronda” is something to behold.
Of course, her brilliance comes with a price tag. So it’s between you and your wallet to decide whether to plop down $60 to see the electrifying Rousey defend her bantamweight championship on Saturday night against undefeated but largely untested Bethe Correia in the main event of UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro (10 p.m. ET, PPV).
Rousey (11–0), who will be putting her belt on the line for the sixth time, has been made to break a sweat beyond the first round only once, and has ended seven fights within their first minute. The 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, 28, is No. 1 in the SI.com pound-for-pound fighter rankings. She’s the most dominant athlete not just in this sport, but in all of sports.
Her longshot challenger, a 32-year-old Brazilian known for her striking fury, ranks No. 10 among 135-pound women in the SI.com tally, though it’s a tenuous placement given that she has yet to face a top-10 opponent. Correia (9–0) story-lined her way into this title fight by beating up Rousey's training partners in her last two outings. If she were to win this one, it would be the biggest upset in UFC history.
Perhaps to make it a fairer fight, Correia is being afforded the rare opportunity to challenge for the belt on her own turf. Then again, HSBC Arena in Rio is 1,200 miles from her hometown, Natal, roughly the distance between New York and Kansas City. And Rousey is popular in Brazil. So who knows if this really will constitute a home game for Correia?
In addition to the pay-per-view telecast of Saturday night’s seven-fight main card, four prelims will be shown on Fox Sports 1, starting at 8 p.m. ET, and the event’s first two bouts will be available on the UFC Fight Pass online service at 7 p.m. ET.
It all started when Correia gave Rousey the fingers. Plural.
She had just pushed her record to 7–0 in her second UFC bout, with her opponent on this April 2014 night being Jessamyn Duke, whose entrance into the fight promotion had come as a member of a Rousey-coached team on The Ultimate Fighter. Duke befriended the champ during the reality show taping, and now is among a trio of fighters which travels like a pack with Rousey. In Entourage terms, Jessamyn is the Turtle to Ronda’s Vince. But actually this quartet is more WWE Network than HBO, going by the name "The Four Horsewomen," adapting the moniker of a renowned pro wrestler stable.
So when Correia had her hand raised that night in Baltimore, she held up four fingers, then lowered one of them. This was a message for Rousey.
Four months later, Correia faced another "Horsewoman," Shayna Baszler, and after scoring a second-round TKO, the Brazilian held up three fingers, then lowered one, having eliminated another member of the champ’s entourage.
It was bombastic theater. The show apparently earned a thumbs-up from UFC reviewers/matchmakers because the Brazilian was given a shot on her weight division’s most brightly lit stage without a single top-10 victory. A rationale for this: Rousey already has beaten six of the nine women behind her in the SI.com bantamweight rankings, two others just lost fights, and the one remaining is Correia.
But here’s the thing Correia’s digital theatrics don’t take into account: Baszler has lost her last three fights, four of her last five; Duke is 1–2 in the UFC. What Correia soon will understand is that essentially all of the horsepower driving the "Horsewomen" comes from one “Rowdy” source.
Last five fights
2/28/15 Cat Zingano W Sub. 1
7/5/14 Alexis Davis W KO 1
2/22/12 Sara McMann W TKO 1
12/28/13 Miesha Tate W Sub. 3
2/23/13 Liz Carmouche W Sub 1
8/30/14 Shayna Baszler W TKO 2
4/26/14 Jessamyn Duke W UD 3
12/7/13 Julie Kedzie W SD 3
6/29/13 Erica Paes W UD 3
6/1/13 Juliete de Souza TKO 2
Tale of the tape
|Tale of the Tape|
|Feb. 1, 1987||Birthdate||June 22, 1983|
|Riverside County, Calif.||Birthplace||Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil|
|Santa Monica, Calif.||Residence||Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil|
* Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
Other numbers to count on
3.29: Average fight time, in minutes and seconds, for Ronda Rousey, the second shortest in UFC history, according to FightMetric. (No. 1, at 3:18, is Todd Duffee, but two of his five UFC bouts were losses.)
2: Finishes by Bethe Correia, who has seen seven of her bouts go to decision. Rousey has finished all 11 of her fights, 10 in Round 1, seven in the first minute.
0: Submissions attempted by Correia in her three UFC bouts.
Rousey's last title defense (don't blink):
Correia saddles up against a Horsewoman:
Correia is an aggressive fighter, which puts her squarely in the crosshairs of Rousey’s sublime grappling game. But considering the mixture of personal grudge and mismatch, don’t be surprised if the champ chooses to stand and bang for a bit—in much the same way a cat paws a captured mouse before the inevitable kill.
Such a characterization might seem disrespectful toward Correia. That’s not the intention here. The challenge is to describe the gap between Rousey and the rest of the UFC women’s bantamweight division without sounding hyperbolic. The champ simply makes embellishment unnecessary.
Correia’s lonesome chance here is the quintessential puncher’s. She has only two career finishes, but she always goes for it. She’ll certainly be in hot pursuit on Saturday, for as long as she can keep this fight standing. Once it hits the mat, though, all of the finger gestures in the world aren’t going to help her.
Rousey is an overwhelming favorite, with a money line ranging from -1300 (bet $1,300 to win $100) to -1800 (bet $1,800 to win $100) at various sportsbooks. The line of Correia ranges from +600 (bet $100 to win $600) to +1190 (bet $100 to win $1,190).
Do you really have to ask?
Rousey by whatever she wants to end it with, whenever she chooses to end it.
“I will give her the opportunity to try and get the belt back. Please don’t kill yourself—don’t commit suicide, because I will give you the rematch.”
—Bethe Correia, speaking to the Brazilian outlet Combate, raises eyebrows by referencing suicide in trash-talking Ronda Rousey (whose father took his own life)
“Suicide is no joke or selling point. My father will be with me the day I hand you the comeuppance you deserve.”
—Rousey, responding via Twitter (Correia later apologized, claiming she did not know about the death of the champ’s dad)
The rest of the card
Maurício “Shogun” Rua vs. Antônio Rogério Nogueira, light heavyweight; Glaico França vs. Fernando Bruno, lightweight; Dileno Lopes vs. Reginaldo Vieira, bantamweight; Stefan Struve vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, heavyweight; Antônio “Bigfoot” Silva vs. Soa Palelei, heavyweight; Cláudia Gadelha vs. Jessica Aguilar, strawweight.
Preliminary card (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1): Demian Maia vs. Neil Magny, welterweight; Rafael Cavalcante vs. Patrick Cummins, light heavyweight; Warlley Alves vs. Nordine Taleb, welterweight; Iuri Alcântara vs. Leandro Issa, men’s bantamweight.
Online prelims (7 p.m., UFC Fight Pass): Vitor Miranda vs. Clint Hester, middleweight; Hugo Viana vs. Guido Cannetti, men’s bantamweight.
Mike Goldberg will handle blow-by-blow and Joe Rogan analysis for the main-card telecast on pay-per-view as well as prelims on Fox Sports 1 and the UFC Fight Pass. There will be an hour-long postfight show on Fox Sports 1, starting at 1:30 a.m. ET.