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SportsMixed Martial Arts

Tough talk as Tate-Rousey Strikeforce title bout looms

Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, left, and

Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, left, and challenger Ronda Rousey stare each other down during a photo shoot for their March 3 fight. Photo Credit: Austin Hargrave, Hilton Media Group for SHOWTIME

These days, if you're not in a Twitter war with someone, you may as well forget your password and exchange your smartphone for one of those flip phones where you have to press the "3" button three times just to use the letter "d" in a text message.

Miesha Tate, the champion, and Ronda Rousey, the challenger, brought their war of words wherever they went. Twitter, Facebook, interviews. Even some creative work in Photoshop. If a voice recorder was recording nearby or a notebook was open, they filled such space with unpleasantries about the other.

All in the name of promoting their upcoming Strikeforce women's bantamweight title fight Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

"I kind of created this rivalry on purpose because I had enough friends and I really could use a few enemies," said Rousey, a bronze medalist in judo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "And the result of how much attention this fight's been getting, that just proves me right. So it's not personal to me, and I understand why she doesn't like me, why she would take it personal because I've been being pretty much overtly rude. I haven't been lying or saying anything I think wasn't true, but I've been saying things I wouldn't say to people's faces usually because it's not polite."

Oh, that's all.

"It's going to be a game changer when she finally eats some punches this time and she's not able to just go out there and throw me around like she has with the girls that she's fought previously," Tate said. "She's way more talk than anything else."

Smack talks sells. Sex, too.

While Tate (12-2) and Rousey (4-0) provided all the smack talk, much of the marketing and promotional buildup involved the two female fighters in sexy dresses and provocative poses. Is that unfair and minimizing of their talent as athletes? They don't think so.

"I think that it's great that we both embrace being beautiful, empowered, strong women," Tate said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think that the most important thing is that we deliver inside the cage and we show that, first and foremost, we're fighters and that's why we're here. But, we're also women and beautiful outside the cage, and it's perfectly fine to have both."

On this point, Rousey agrees with Tate and plays nice.

"We're pretty much getting into unarmed combat where anything's possible, someone could die," Rousey said. "And if you see two girls that pretty much look like Xena Warrior Princess going at it, I mean that was a show on TV for reason. People want to watch it."

New York Sports