Strikeforce's Coker: Rousey "CAN"T just be a marketing machine with a pretty face"
SAN DIEGO – In one year, Ronda Rousey has taken the mixed martial arts world by the arm and given it a firm yank – literally.
The Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion already had built a quick reputation for fast finishes when she debuted with the promotion in August 2011. It took her only two armbar wins, 64 seconds and a little trash-talk to get a title shot.
Since winning the belt in March – needing less than a round to submit Miesha Tate, which was longer than her first four pro fights and three amateur fights combined – Rousey has been the sport's next big thing.
Rousey (5-0 MMA, 3-0 SF), a 2008 Olympic bronze medal winner in judo, on Saturday defends her title for the first time when she meets ex-titleholder Sarah Kaufman (15-1 MMA, 6-1 SF) on Saturday on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/PT) at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.
Rousey has been in a fairly constant spotlight thanks to a recent Showtime "All Access" special, guest spots with Conan O'Brien and TMZ, and her "ESPN The Magazine" tastefully nude cover. And then there's her perfect record of first-round armbar submission wins.
But Thursday, Rousey was all business.
"(Kaufman) might not know it, but she should be thanking her lucky stars that MMA is properly regulated in California," Rousey said. "If I get her in an armbar, I'm going to try to rip it off and throw it at her corner. If I get her in a choke, I'm going to hold onto it until she's actually dead. And if I get a knockout, along the way I'm going to try to pound her face into the ground and she's depending on the competence of the California (State) Athletic Commission to walk out of that cage alive."
While that may seem like pre-fight hype to some, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said Rousey has entered a different phase of her fight preparation.
"You can't just be a marketing machine with a pretty face and think you're going to be a star," Coker said. "It's fight time now. In her mind, her whole being is now Saturday night."
Despite Rousey's threats of bodily harm to Kaufman, the Canadian seemed to take it all in stride while trying to focus on recapturing the title she held two years ago. And if Rousey has been run ragged by news media commitments, Kaufman doesn't think it will affect her.
"I have no doubt that she's trained fully for this fight, and I don't think preparation is going to be a factor for her at all," Kaufman said. "She's going to show up to fight, and she's going to try to kill me – but that's all right. At the end of the day, someone's going to walk out with the belt, and I want that person to be me."
Miesha Tate - Urijah Faber - Dustin Poirier - Frankie Edgar - Claudia Gadelha - Demian Maia - Jessica Eye