For most fighters, the mandatory workouts during fight week is nothing more than the UFC offering a photo opp for the various media outlets who traveled there to cover the event.
Fighters go through the motions, pretending that what they’re doing for the cameras is actually what they’ve been practicing for the past several weeks to unleash on their impending opponents. Some hardly break a sweat.
Not reigning UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (pictured). She goes all-out, and the battered pads and mitts are proof. Sure, not all of the techniques she displays is something she would use on her opponents, you don’t want to reveal your hand before stepping into the cage, but for the most part, Rousey treats the media workouts as another chance to hone her skills before taking center stage.
Also, Rousey knows that fans have lined up for hours waiting to catch a glimpse of the UFC’s biggest superstar in action. The free session might be the only time they ever get to see her perfect her craft in-person and “Rowdy” doesn’t want to disappoint.
“There’s so much positivity and support,” Rousey said of the fans following Wednesday’s UFC 193 media workouts. “Sometimes, I’m like I really hope I deserve this. I’m trying my best to deserve it. I really, really am, but sometimes you get wrapped up in how amazing all this is. You get so focused on the fight and it causes so much anxiety and stress in you kind of lose sight on how amazing it is sometimes.
“I have these moments [where] I look out and people are cheering my name and I’m like, ‘Who are you people and why do you like me?’ It’s overwhelming sometimes and I’m trying my best to appreciate it, and I’m gonna show my appreciation for them by winning in the most fantastic way possible and making them so happy that they were there to see it.”
Rousey took her appreciation a step further yesterday. After her near-hour-long workout in front of a massive crowd, and 10-minute media scrum, Rousey spent over an hour signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans in attendance.
Rousey burned more than an hour that she could have used resting, focusing, cutting weight or whatever else she needs to do in order to dominate the way that only she can when the curtain is drawn. The UFC didn’t require her to or even ask her to, she just did it because that’s who she is.
It’s one of the many reason why little girls across the globe dressed up as Rousey for Halloween. She’s larger than life, but takes the time to show appreciation to those who have allowed her to live the life she enjoys.
There could be as many as 75,000 fans screaming Rousey’s name Saturday inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne when she defends her throne against Holly Holm. It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, Rousey was arguably the UFC’s least popular fighter after her tumultuous stint as coach on “The Ultimate Fighter 18.”
That’s what happens when you kill fans with kindness outside the cage, while crushing opponents inside of it.