LAS VEGAS » Ronda Rousey has deep respect for her Saturday night Ultimate Fighting Championship opponent, and fellow Olympic medalist, Sara McMann, but it doesn’t match the faith Rousey has in her own determination.
"I’m not counting on her to beat herself," Rousey said Friday afternoon in her hotel suite. "I’m counting on me to be the fighter that’s more technical, more skilled and wants it more. I know I want it more than her."
Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion from Venice, Calif., will defend her belt for the third time, seeking to remain unbeaten after winning her first eight each by armbar submission.
The Rousey-McMann bout will be the main event in UFC 170 at Mandalay Bay Events Center and on pay-per-view.
Rousey, 27, is fighting 56 days after beating bitter rival Miesha Tate by third-round armbar.
In her Glendale, Calif., training camp, Rousey sharpened her body punching to complement the judo discipline she used to win a 2008 Olympic bronze medal.
McMann, 33, claimed a 2004 Olympic silver medal in wrestling, and won her UFC debut by decision in April.
Both fighters weighed in at the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds Friday.
"I expect and train for a five-round, high-paced war," McMann (7-0) said. "I won’t know her physical strength until I’m out there, but I train with guys and I’m 100 percent certain she’s not stronger than them. It’s about finding ways to move, to position in ways that even if they are stronger, you can neutralize them."
McMann’s fortitude is impressive.
She is attempting to reach the pinnacle of her sport after overcoming the death of her brother, Jason, who was murdered in 1999, and the car crash death of her wrestler boyfriend Steven Blackford in 2004, with McMann at the wheel.
"There were times it was extremely hard to even get out of bed — those are events that are crippling to a person who has any kind of emotion," McMann said. "But I’m just naturally a person who has a hard time not accomplishing something. So I started just naturally setting goals, and when you focus on the goals ahead of you, one thing leads to another."
Rousey says McMann is her "toughest fight yet," but says the difference in her training should shine.
"All the throws that exist in wrestling exist in judo," Rousey said. "There’s a lot of things in judo that don’t exist in wrestling — submissions being one of them. Transitioning from a throw into a submission is new to her. The gripping in judo translates more to the clench work in MMA than wrestling does."
Rousey also detailed her constant attention on producing an armbar, taught to her by her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, a former judo world champion. Her armbars happen with such regularity, Rousey said, because she can produce one from "every single position I have."
"A person might not even know they’re caught yet, but I’ll know I’m on the path."
Rousey also recalled that she took considerable backlash for not shaking Tate’s hand after beating her in December.
"I don’t jump on the cages, run around, scream" after a victory, Rousey said. "I try to make sure the person’s OK…
"I might not show respect in the way other people want me to, but I show respect in the way I was taught."