Australia’s UFC fans will get one final opportunity to embrace bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey before her UFC 193 title fight Saturday night with Holly Holm. After that, it’s down to business.
Rousey, who has engaged in a love affair with Oz since her arrival almost two weeks ago, will take center stage at Etihad Stadium for today’s weigh-in with the rest of the UFC 193 fight card. She’ll flash her incomparable smile, take part in a staredown with Holm and make her final preparations.
Then her smile will dissolve into the unforgettable Rousey scowl – the one she wears during her ring walk and inside the Octagon.
More than 5,000 fans are expected for today’s weigh-in. Rousey and Holm have been cordial in the days leading up to the fight, but it will be interesting to see if one or the other has anything special to say when they’re face to face, their fists raised.
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Certainly, women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk puts on a show during her weigh-ins, crouching low to look up at her opponent and sometimes offering a gift. Will she do that with No. 8 contender Valerie Letourneau? Wait and see.
More on Jedrzejczyk/Letourneau: Joanna to Brazilian rival: Wait your turn! | Watch Embedded on FOX: Jedrzejczyk-Letourneau preview | Letourneau embraces moment | Fight stats
The UFC 193 card is unique because the main event and co-main feature women defending their title belts, but the rest of the show is also must-watch MMA.
New Zealand heavyweight Mark Hunt, immensely popular in Australia, faces Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in a scheduled three-rounder that both need to reenergize their title hopes. They met once before, in December 2013, fighting to a five-round draw that left both men bloodied and exhausted.
Tenth-ranked middleweight Uriah Hall, coming off a stunning knockout of Gegard Mousasi in September, replaces Michael Bisping and will face No. 14 Robert Whitaker, and heavyweight Stefan Struve meets Jared Rosholt. Both bouts are part of the main card.
The show begins with four bouts on UFC Fight Pass, followed by four more on FOX Sports 1 preceding the live pay-per-view show.
Michael Martinez is a longtime sports journalist and former staff writer at The New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News and FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMMartinez