NEIL FRANKLAND, AP Sports Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ronda Rousey says it’s her fear of failure that guarantees she’ll win Sunday when she defends her UFC bantamweight title against Holly Holm in front of a projected-record Melbourne crowd.
Just eight months after Australia’s Victoria state lifted its ban on cage fighting, the UFC has brought its showcase UFC 193 event Down Under, with the Rousey-Holm fight as its main event.
Undefeated through 12 UFC bouts, including seven successful title defenses, the former judo Olympian says her fear of failure is bigger than anyone’s.
“I’ve endured the worse losses possible. I lost the finals at the (judo) world championships when I wanted to be world champ like my mother (1984 champion AnnMaria De Mars),” Rousey said. “My dream since I was a little kid was to win at the Olympics and I failed twice.
“Nobody knows what failure feels like more than I do and that’s why I’m the person who walks in there willing to die in order to win. And that’s why I am always going to win, because I know how it feels.”
Rousey, who has become one of the most prominent U.S. female athletes after winning her last three bouts in a combined 64 seconds, said she’d “rather die and go bankrupt than ever walk out of there not the winner.”
“For every other girl in the division, it’s easier for them to lose and go home with a paycheck. … I’m going to walk out of there the winner every single time. I’ve lost enough in my life.”
The UFC 193 main card also features a straw-weight title bout between Poland’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Canadian Valerie Letourneau, as well as men’s heavyweights Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva, and middleweights Uriah Hall and Robert Whittaker.
Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium has been transformed from a 56,000-seat Australian rules football venue to an auditorium holding close to 75,000 seats for the event and a full house would easily eclipse the 55,724 fans who attended UFC 129 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre in 2011.
Holm says her focus will be on Rousey rather than the crowd
“I don’t even think I’ll look around. I think I’m just going to focus on the cage because that’s where the work needs to be done,” she said. “I know they’re there to watch but it’s not just the people in the stands, there will be people all over the world watching it.”
If the enthusiastic turnout to an open workout for the fighters in Melbourne’s downtown Wednesday is any indication, a record crowd could be in the offing.
“Our workouts yesterday was a real touching experience,” Rousey said. “It was bigger than any open workout I’ve ever had before and great to see how the people here have embraced us, even though none of the people on the main event fights are Australian.
“I’m so glad we picked here to try and beat the UFC attendance record.”
To cater to the UFC’s regular Saturday night television slot, the card will begin Sunday morning in Melbourne, with the main card scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. local time (10 p.m. EST).
Rousey says more than ready to cope with the taking to the ring mid-afternoon rather than late at night, with her fight-day already mapped out.
“I want to wake up, eat something, go back to sleep, and then wake up, do my hair, change, come over here, take another nap, wake up, warm up, go beat up Holly, and go eat some wings and go to sleep,” she said.
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