Ronda Rousey wowed fans and the media at the UFC 193 press conference held at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Wednesday in front of a 5,000 strong pre-registered audience.
Rousey was joined by title challenger, Holly Holm, reigning defending strawweight champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and her upcoming opponent Valerie Letourneau. UFC President Dana White also made the trek across the pacific stating that “nothing is bigger than this (event). We’ve been waiting for a very long time to come to a stadium. 70,000 seats here and we’re very excited about it.” When asked about whether UFC 193 could fill Etihad Stadium – “I’m optimistic that we can fill the stadium or we wouldn’t have done it.”
The event which features an all-female main and co-main event has never been done on this scale before in the history of combat sports and Rousey is confident that the current UFC attendance record can be broken. “Aussies are the one people in the whole world that appreciate a fight well enough to be able to make history and break that record.” The crowd, absolutely enamored with the bantamweight champ, agreed wholeheartedly chanting ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’ in response.
With the cage set up and on show, the enormity of how massive this event will be is starting to sink in, Rousey however takes it all in her stride, confident as ever. “What makes me so confident that I can win is that I’m the greatest fighter in the world. I truly believe it.” Holly Holm has other plans though. “To this day she has made that true. Things can change and that’s my plan.”
Holly Holm is a decorated 19x world boxing champion who is currently 9-0 in her professional MMA career. Her striking prowess is undisputed but it is her devastating head and body kicks that have resulted in six TKO’s to date, a weapon Rousey has yet to come up against. She also boasts one of the best camps in the UFC, Jackon’s-Winklejohn’s MMA, where she currently trains alongside Jon Jones. Holm knows however that Rousey is as impressive as they come and remains as elusive as ever. “As far as Ronda’s performances, not just some of them have been impressive, all of them have been impressive so I mean nobody can argue with that. There’s not a lot of footage or film to watch on her so that’s a challenge for us, right? When you have like three fights equaling to like one minute so you know you don’t have a ton of film to look at but that’s why I really put a lot of faith and a lot of trust in my coaches that are really masterminds of putting together a great game plan.” Can she beat the champ though? “Well, I signed the contract. Anyone is beatable in this world, not just in this sport.”
Despite Joanna Jedrzejczyk being pegged to fight Claudia Gadelha in January 2016, Jedrzejczyk is thrilled to be part of UFC 193. “I am a champion and I cannot wait for challengers, you know what I mean? So I’m very happy that I’m going to fight in Australia on UFC 193 and I’m happy that I’m going to fight with Valerie.” Letourneau, a veteran of mixed martial arts, started her career at 135 pounds and believes her strength as a striker will be the difference maker in her fight against Jendrzejczyk, who has fought predominantly wrestlers and grapplers since making her debut in the UFC, and has no concerns about the weight cut ahead. “My biggest worry is to perform on the night of the fight, I don’t mind suffering as much as I have to, as long as I can perform. There’s no doubt I can go for 5 rounds even cutting at 115.”
Dana White admitted during the press conference that he had been eating his words ever since he made the comment back in 2011 that women would not fight in the UFC, stating that it was actually “the best decision I’ve ever made.” Women as fighters is no longer a novelty and the crowd turn out, interest in UFC 193 and Rousey’s PPV numbers to date speak volumes of that. “I’m the bantamweight champ, she’s (Joanna Jedrzejczyk) the Strawweight champion and these people are here because they love fights and that’s what I’m really happy to see happening. The fact that we’re women is obvious, it’s not a novelty anymore and it doesn’t need to be said…hopefully it won’t even be part of the conversation anymore.’
At the close of the press conference, Rousey who has always been known for her ability to stir up controversy, had no qualms in making her dislike for friend Nick Diaz’s recent suspension known to the world.
“I know no one asked me anything but I have to say something. It’s so not right for him to be suspended for five years for marijuana. I’m against them even testing for weed at all, it’s not a performance enhancing drug and has nothing to do with the competition it’s only tested for political reasons, they say oh it’s only for your safety to keep you from hurting yourself because you’re out there, well you know what, why don’t they test for all of the other things that could possibly hurt us that we could be under the influence of whilst we’re out there? There’s no reason for them to be testing for weed, in athletics the beautiful thing about it (sports) is that it separates everything from politics, it shouldn’t be involved at all. Nick is a really close and dear friend of mine so of course I’m going to defend him but I see it as so unfair if one person tests for steroids that could actually really hurt a person and another person smokes a plinth that makes them happy and he gets suspended for five years; whereas the guy who could’ve hurt someone so much that he could’ve died in there (the cage) gets a slap on the wrist. It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all and you know what it doesn’t make me a bad person for saying it, I can’t believe it’s not being said more and yeah I really think they should free Nick Diaz but you know what it’s not Dana’s decision either you can’t get mad at him he had nothing to do with it. I don’t think Marijuana should be part of the conversation at all, I think it’s an invasion of privacy for them to test for it and they have no right.” *mic drop*
The event closed with a fan Q&A before Rousey, Holm, Jedrzejczy and Letourneau took the opportunity to take photos and sign autographs. Check out the highlights video of the event here.
UFC 193 will take place at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on 15 November, 2015. Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, 21st September, 2015 via Ticketmaster.com.au.