Ronda Rousey's return is almost here: UFC 207 in Nevada. Coverage begins Friday on FS1—or streamed live via the Fox Sports Go app—with the Prefight Show at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the preliminary bouts at 8 p.m.
This article originally appeared on FoxSports.com.
Few fighters know Ronda Rousey better inside or outside the Octagon than her former opponent Miesha Tate.
The two women engaged in arguably the most bitter rivalry in the history of women’s mixed martial arts that spanned years between their first fight in Strikeforce to a season spent coaching against each other on “The Ultimate Fighter” to their eventual rematch.
Tate knows the fiery, angry Rousey that she fought on two occasions, but she’s not so sure that’s the same fighter about to walk into the Octagon to face current women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes on Friday night at UFC 207.
“I think that if she really wanted to continue fighting, she would have been back in there sooner,” Tate told Skip Bayless on “Undisputed” on Wednesday. “That’s what always seems to be with really competitive people just when they lose, they want to get back in there and do it again and do it again, do it again, do it again, I can prove it, I can get better. I’m not saying that’s always the wisest decision but I can say that’s what I see typically from people who want to fight.
“They want to fight, especially off of a loss. They want to get back in there and get that redemption. Her taking a year and some change off just says a lot about I think she wants to do other things. I don’t really think that she wants to be in there fighting anymore but I think that she’s doing it sort of as a favor to the UFC."
To add onto Tate’s concerns about Rousey’s mentality going into her upcoming fight, the former champion has created a media blackout in the lead up to her return bout. Outside of a couple key interviews, Rousey has declined to do any interviews ,including any fight week media, which is standard and typically required fare for all UFC athletes.
Tate faced the media before and after all of her biggest wins and toughest losses so she’s no stranger to the good and the bad that come along with it. Still, Tate wonders why Rousey is suddenly so inaccessible, especially after she shot to superstardom in large part because of her work doing interviews and appearances ahead of her fights.
“It makes you wonder where her head is at. Is she laser focused or is she struggling? Is she struggling with everything she feels she has to do? Does she really want to be there?” Tate said.
“Cause I kind of feel like you don’t want to forget what got you where you’re at and that’s the media covering her. So now she’s refusing to do any of it. Well, where is this girl’s head at? What is she thinking? What’s going through her brain?”
Tate doesn’t agree with the UFC’s move to allow Rousey to skip out on all the fight week duties other competitors will be doing this week in Las Vegas.
Tate believes it’s important to promote an event but also to answer those tough questions because that’s just part of the job.
“I think this is a huge fight and both of them should be doing the media,” Tate said. “Being accessible a little bit to the fans. I sympathize, it’s fight week, but everyone has to do it. There’s never been an exception.”
Between the time off and the sudden media blackout, Tate feels like those two factors combined are enough for her to wonder how much Rousey really wants to be back in the UFC after spending more than a year out of the sport following her loss to Holly Holm last November.
“That’s what really makes me think she doesn’t want to be doing this,” Tate said. “Maybe she doesn’t want to do it. Cause maybe she said, ‘look I’ll do it under one condition, I do it my way.’ I don’t know. I feel like maybe she doesn’t want to be here doing this right now.”
With so many questions still surrounding Rousey’s return, Tate ultimately can’t help but pick Amanda Nunes to beat her on Friday night.
Tate faced and fell to Nunes back in July so she knows what the Brazilian wrecking machine is capable of doing to anybody in a fight, much less someone who’s heart is just no longer in it.
“I do honestly, I do,” Tate said when asked if Nunes would topple Rousey at UFC 207. “I think if one of those right hands lands, unless really everything goes her way and she gets that clinch, gets it down quick and gets it over
“Ronda has the ability to finish anybody. So she could do it. I’m not counting her out but I am saying if push comes to shove, I just don’t know if her heart’s really in it anymore. Amanda’s (heart) is. She’s in it. She’s in it to win it.”
Damon Martin is a senior UFC writer for FoxSports.com