LAS VEGAS, December 28 – Ronda Rousey can go more than five minutes in a fight. After seven first round finishes in seven pro fights, she went into the third stanza Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but the result was the same in the UFC 168 co-main event, as she defeated heated rival Miesha Tate via armbar submission to retain her UFC women’s bantamweight crown.
“I have no excuses,” said Tate, who lost her Strikeforce title to Rousey in 2012 and coached against her on The Ultimate Fighter 18. “She was the better fighter tonight.”
Rousey had to dig deep to get the win though, fighting off a spirited effort from Tate throughout.
After a fierce exchange to open the bout, Rousey quickly closed distance and locked up with Tate. The challenger was able to elude the takedown, but she still ate some hard shots as the two locked against the fence. Moments later, the bout strayed to the mat, and Tate went for a triangle choke, only to be rebuffed by Rousey. A subsequent scramble saw Tate get her own takedown, but then Rousey went to work from the bottom as she tried to lock in her own triangle choke, all the while firing punches at her rival. Just before the two minute mark, Tate escaped, and as the two stood, Tate landed several hard shots to the face until Rousey got close and tossed the challenger to the mat. Rousey looked for her trademark armbar, but Tate got loose and stood, only to get tossed to the canvas once again. After a brief stalemate, the two rose again, with Rousey locking Tate up against the fence until the bell – the first time Rousey had ever been a full round in her career.
Tate smiled at Rousey before the start of round two, aware that her opponent was entering foreign territory, and her confidence was evident as she landed upkicks on Rousey early on. Another thunderous toss put Rousey back in control, but Tate escaped once again. This time, Rousey put Tate back down immediately, and even with the crowd chanting “Miesha, Miesha,” Rousey was able to nullify Tate’s attacks while pinning her to the fence, slowing things down to a manageable pace before yet another throw. This time, Rousey made a concerted effort to take Tate’s arm, but the resilient challenger wouldn’t go away quietly, even when caught briefly with under 90 seconds left. Rousey wouldn’t give up positioning though, with ground strikes being her main line of attack until the bell.
Rousey emerged from her corner for round three with her mouth wide open, but she was still able to push Tate to the fence and hold her there until she was able to drag her to the mat. There, Rousey quickly sunk in her armbar, and it was all over, with Mario Yamasaki intervening at the 58 second mark. Tate immediately extended her hand to Rousey following the finish, but the champion turned away, making it clear that this rivalry had not ended, drawing boos from the packed house which drowned out Rousey’s post-fight interview.
But it didn’t matter. Once again, her fight game had the last word.
With the win, Rousey improves to 8-0; Tate falls to 13-5.
Watch Rousey's Octagon interview * Backstage interview
Miesha Tate post-fight interview
BROWNE vs. BARNETT
Heavyweight contender Travis Browne made the biggest statement of his career, knocking out former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett in one minute, marking his third KO victory without a loss in 2013.
The action was fast-paced from the start, with Browne’s initial rushes getting met by a stint against the fence that most assumed would lead to Barnett taking control. But Browne wasn’t having it, and after he caught his foe with a knee to the head while Barnett shot in, it was the beginning of the end for “The Warmaster,” who subsequently ate a series of elbows which knocked him out at the 1:00 mark.
With the win, Browne - who knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga and Alistair Overeem in 2013 - improves to 16-1-1; Barnett falls to 33-7.
See Browne's post-fight interview
MILLER vs. CAMOES
New Jersey lightweight standout Jim Miller picked up his first win since December of 2012, submitting Fabricio Camoes via armbar in the first round.
The two groundfighting aces opted for a standup slugfest in the first half of the opening round, with Camoes doing excellent work until the bout strayed to the mat. And while Miller (23-4, 1 NC) was initially in the top position, Camoes (14-8-1) was able to reverse it, getting on top to begin firing off strikes. Miller, always cool under pressure, locked up Camoes’ arm though, and moments later the tap out came at the 3:42 mark from the Brazilian, who was returning to the Octagon for the first time since UFC 148 in July of 2012.
Miller post-fight interview
POIRIER vs. BRANDAO
After Diego Brandao didn’t make weight for his featherweight bout against Dustin Poirier, the Louisiana native took it as a personal affront, and he made Brandao pay for it on fight night, drilling out an impressive first round TKO win.
The action was fast-paced and competitive for much of the opening stanza, with each man getting in his share of solid shots. But as the round progressed, Brandao’s gas tank emptied, and Poirier, sensing this, began digging to the body at close range. And when Brandao’s hands dropped, Poirier went upstairs, dropping the Brazilian against the fence. Brandao looked like he was going to make it out of the round, but with 30 seconds left, Poirier poured it on, and after a series of unanswered blows, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout at the 4:54 mark.
With the win, Poirier improves to 15-3; Brandao, who initially weighed in at 153 pounds but was allowed to fight at 151.5 pounds after being fined, falls to 22-9.
Poirier post-fight interview