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Ronda Rousey welcomes more women in UFC, says strawweight division will help her

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Perhaps no one is happier that the UFC is introducing a 115-pound strawweight division for women than bantamweight champion (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey.

Rousey (9-0) is the undisputed queen of 135-pounders, with three successful UFC title defences already. Eight of her nine wins have come in the first round, lasting a combined 13 minutes 34 seconds.

Next up for the Olympic judo bronze medallist is Canadian Alexis Davis (16-5) at UFC 175 on July 5 in Las Vegas.

Rousey has plenty of respect for Davis, a native of Port Colborne, Ont., who trains out of San Diego and is ranked No. 2 among UFC bantamweight contenders.

But Rousey is also keenly aware of the need for competition to keep her division interesting.

"It's no fun having just one person crushing everyone," she told The Canadian Press in a recent interview. "I really do feel my fights are still exciting. They can be one-sided, people still enjoy watching them."

The addition of the 115-pound division means "not all of women's MMA is dependent on how my division is doing," she added.

"There was a while that (former middleweight champion) Anderson Silva was just crushing everyone. No one was crying about how that division was doing because there were so many other divisions going on that were ultra-competitive at the time."

Rousey believes the 115-pound division is thick with talent, will be ultra-competitive and that it will take a while before one champion takes charge.

"Maybe by the time that happens, I'll already be moved on with my life and going on to the next chapter and then the women's bantamweight division will be the competitive one again," said the 27-year-old champion. "I really feel like the two (divisions) could really help each other out a lot.

"And it's not good to have champions being turned over all the time either, and not to have anyone to be dominant at all. So you really just have to find that balance. And I think that having two divisions in different states is a way that we can find that balance. "

The UFC turned to the Invicta FC women's MMA organization to help populate the strawweight division with Invicta assigning 11 contracts to the UFC.

Those fighters, plus five others, will report to Las Vegas in May to take part in Season 20 of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show. The winner will be crowned the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion.

Rousey has branched off into movie work recently but says she has no time frame for moving on from MMA.

"Me and my coach talked about this and we agreed that the day that I don't feel like training anymore is that is the day I'm going to quit," she said. "If I don't want to come to the gym and train, then I don't deserve to be, don't belong in the ring fighting any more."

There is no fear of that happening imminently.

"I still park my car and literally jog from the parking lot into the gym because I can't wait to get in there. As soon as I'm dragging ass into the gym, then I'm going to quit," she added with a laugh.

Last time out, Rousey crumpled Sara McMann — an Olympic wrestling silver medallist — with a nasty knee to the body for a 66-second TKO at UFC 170 in February.

Two months earlier at UFC 168, she stopped Miesha (Cupcake) Tate 58 seconds into the third round in a rematch of the two rivals. It marked her eighth straight win by armbar.

Rousey took some time off after the McMann fight, spending a few days in Big Bear, Calif., and Costa Rica. But she likes to keep busy.

"I don't do that well doing nothing," she said. "After the (2008) Olympics, I took a year just to do nothing and bartend and drink and party and it didn't make me happy. So I really don't revert back to then when I have free time. I usually end up back in the gym just the same, except for I'm probably am a little bit less laser-focused and more focused on helping other people and just being in there."

"I guess that just comes with having a job that you love," she added. "That even when you can take time off, you don't want to leave it."

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