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Ronda Rousey readies for showdown of Olympians

Mixed martial arts: Glendale-trained UFC champion will face fellow unbeaten, former Olympian in Sara McMann.

February 11, 2014|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • Ronda Rousey spars with her trainer, Edmond Taverdyan, at an open workout with the MMA champion at the Glendale Fighting Club in Glendale on Monday. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer).
Ronda Rousey spars with her trainer, Edmond Taverdyan,…

LOS ANGELES — As the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are well underway across the globe, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is well underway in her preparation for her own Olympic showdown.

Rousey, a former two-time Olympic judoka and the first woman from the United States to medal in judo, will defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight championship against Sara McMann, a former Olympic medalist in wrestling, on Feb. 22 at UFC 170 in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay.

Not just a UFC title bout, Rousey believes it’s an Olympic showdown that may never be seen again.

“It’s not that we’re just Olympians, we’re Olympic medalists. And we’re not just Olympic medalists, but we’re undefeated Olympic medalists. We’re two undefeated Olympic medalists that are fighting during the Olympic Games,” Rousey said Monday. “I really don’t think this will happen ever again.”

With her impending UFC title fight closing in, Rousey took center stage at the Glendale Fighting Club on Monday morning for an open workout as she spoke, among a range of topics, on how she hopes and believes a bout featuring fighters with such high-level pedigrees can change the perception not just of women’s mixed martial arts, but the sport as a whole.

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“I really want the public to have more respect for not just the women’s MMA fighters, but MMA in general,” said Rousey, who trains at GFC under Edmond Tarverdyan. “It started out everyone had this kind of idea that MMA fighters were two guys that they found in the bar at the casino that they paid them enough money to jump in the cage and swing at each other. I think it really represents the progress and the refinement of the sport. It’s not just two chicks that were doing Tae Bo and decided to give this a try one day or their boyfriend was a fighter so they got into it. It’s two girls that were at the pinnacle of their sport and decided that MMA was a better option and moved over to that. It not just speaks for the women, it speaks for all the fighters.”

The 27-year-old Rousey boasts an 8-0 professional MMA career following two appearances in the Olympics, winning bronze in judo in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

McMann, 33, was the first American female to win a silver medal in Olympic freestyle wrestling, doing so in 2004 in Athens. She’s 7-0 entering her first title shot.

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