MELBOURNE: Mixed martial arts star Ronda Rousey may have the reputation as the toughest woman on Earth ahead of Sunday’s world title fight, but she says it’s fear of failure that drives her on.
The 28-year-old American, who has shot to stardom on the back of a run of devastating knockouts, returns to the octagon in Melbourne to defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) crown.
“Nobody knows what failure feels like more than I do,” the bantamweight told reporters on Friday.
“… And that’s why I’m always going to win, because I know how it feels.
“I’m gonna walk out of there every single time a winner.”
Rousey was referring to her loss at judo world championships and disappointment at not winning an Olympic gold medal when she took bronze at the 2008 games in Beijing.
The most feared female prizefighter on the planet boasts a 12-0 undefeated record and organizers are hoping for a 63,000-strong crowd at the Etihad Stadium for the bout against former boxer Holly Holm.
“My fear of failure is larger than anyone else’s, and it’s increasing with every single fight,” Rousey went on.
“I don’t shy away from it. I am extremely fearful but I don’t have a single doubt in my mind [about winning].”
Rousey said she feels pressure, but thrives on it.
“The most uncomfortable scenario is that I’m the best and I have the most pressure,” she said.
“That’s the environment I do the best in. I fight above myself. I do better when the pressure and the fear is the highest.”
Holm, from New Mexico, is also undefeated in the sport with a 9-0 record, and offers a contrast in calm to the quickfire verbals of Rousey.
Holm is known as a pure striker, but Rousey, whose story has helped put mixed martial arts in the mainstream of US sports, remains confident.
“I have really fragile hands but I have a great chin,” Rousey said. “I am very confident in my ability to take a hit.”
Holm said she feels very well prepared.
“I do feel like I am better prepared because she showed nobody has been prepared enough, she has run through them, so I have to feel I am going to be prepared better than that,” she said.
“We have a gameplan for every piece of it.”
In her last bout, Rousey demolished Brazil’s Bethe Correia with a first-round victory in Rio de Janeiro, taking just 34 seconds to finish her opponent.
Australian bookies are predicting Holms will not last two rounds.