Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker not worried about Ronda Rousey’s title fight preparation by Matt Erickson on Aug 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm ET

Posted: August 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
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SAN DIEGO – It happens all the time. Actor/Singer/Athlete/Politician/Reality Show Heiress/Whoever is thrust into the limelight, gets too much fame, fortune and notoriety, then suffers a fall.

It’s a story right out of Hollywood, which, given Ronda Rousey’s home in Venice Beach, is somewhat appropriate. Her story still is ongoing – she defends her Strikeforce bantamweight title Saturday night in San Diego.

But while her past five months have definitely been that thrust-into-the-limelight scenario, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he doesn’t believe his highest profile champion reached that “too Hollywood” level.

Rousey (5-0 MMA, 3-0 SF) already was a star before she got into a war of words with Miesha Tate ahead of their title fight in March. Four pro wins and four brutal armbars in an average of 37 seconds will do that. The promise against Tate was that she would take her arm, too. And she did.

After that, “MMA star” became “MMA superstar.” And with appearances on the cover of ESPN The Magazine – sans clothes, only pink hand wraps, in “The Body Issue” – and Conan O’Brien and TMZ and Showtime’s “All Access” two-part special, “MMA superstar” has threatened to break right through to mainstream sports star.

But Coker said preparation hasn’t been an issue for Rousey as she gets set to defend the belt for the first time against former champ Sarah Kaufman (15-1 MMA, 6-1 SF).

“(Her popularity has) definitely grown,” Coker on Thursday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “And I think that’s where her management and everyone around her needs to step in and say, ‘Hey, she’s training for a fight.’

“I think they’ve done that. There’s been some times when she was not available (for media requests) because of training, which is really the right thing to do – as much as we would like her to be out there (promoting) every day.”

Rousey on Thursday brushed off any talk of appearances and media obligations and promotional spots – the “Hollywood” that certainly has been a contributing factor to the sudden fall of other star athletes in the past – making her less prepared for Kaufman than she has been in past fights.

“I always fight the same, regardless of the situation,” Rousey told MMAjunkie.com. “It doesn’t matter. I respect Sarah a lot as an opponent and I trained harder for this fight than any other fight before.”

Coker knows Rousey has the tools to be what he called “a marketing machine.” But that becomes moot with an upset loss. He believes Kaufman could give her some trouble if Rousey is unable to get the fight to the ground and into her wheelhouse, where no arm is safe.

“You can’t just be a marketing machine with a pretty face and think you’re going to be a star in mixed martial arts. It’s not going to happen,” Coker said. “You better be able to step in there and do it, and she’s been doing it. And when I look at Sarah, she’s going to try to keep this fight standing up. If she can, it’s going to be a long night for Ronda because Sarah can definitely punch and strike. It’s going to be interesting to see how the chess match unveils.”

As Coker said, Strikeforce will take any promotion Rousey wants to do. It elevates the sport, it elevates the promotion, it elevates the Rousey-Kaufman title fight. But he thinks she did plenty, and believes she’s over it and ready to fight. She wouldn’t even hold her title belt on stage at Thursday’s news conference, and gave an icy glare to the Strikeforce official who attempted to hand it to her.

“At the end of the day, she’s got to fight – she’s in the business of fighting right now,” Coker said. “A lot of people are taking a really close look at her this fight because Sarah’s our former champion, a great striker, has knockout power, dangerous – and how’s Ronda going to handle that situation?

“It’ll be clear on Saturday night who put in what.”

Rousey wants it known that she’s prepared to show the work she put in. Anyone who thinks she’s not, anyone who wonders if she got too Hollywood in the buildup to this fight since her win over Tate, Rousey simply pointed to Saturday night’s main event for entertainment that has nothing to do with the behind-the-scenes cameras or photo shoots or calling out Kardashians.

“I did all the work that I need to, and I’m here to fight. I’m not here to do a little dance for you guys.”

For more on “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman,” stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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