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A look at UFC title fights in hostile territory

7/30/2015

"If I was really going to make an example out of her and beat her in the most devastating way possible, I'd rather do it in her home country." Ronda Rousey on SportsCenter; July 27, 2015

Ronda Rousey has fought the past nine fights of her historic MMA career in the United States, usually as the fan favorite. But when she enters the Octagon on Saturday against Brazilian Bethe Correia, she will be in hostile territory at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. With the UFC’s rapid expansion over the past 10 years, many champions and challengers have fought in “enemy” territory with negative reactions and mixed results. Here’s a look at a few of them.


UFC 77: Anderson Silva-Rich Franklin in Cincinnati

It would only be right to start with the event titled “Hostile Territory.” After defeating Yushin Okami earlier in the year, the UFC announced that Rich Franklin would get his rematch against UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and it would happen in Franklin’s hometown of Cincinnati at UFC 77. Almost a year earlier at UFC 64, Silva destroyed Franklin’s face with devastating Muay Thai knees to take the title from “Ace.” In the rematch, the result was the same as Silva retained the title with a 2nd-round TKO due to knees.


UFC 128: Mauricio Rua-Jon Jones in Newark, New Jersey

In February 2011, Jon Jones defeated Ryan Bader at UFC 126 and was named the No. 1 contender to the UFC light heavyweight title held by Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The matchup was to be held between Rua and Jones’ teammate Rashad Evans before Evans suffered an injury. New York’s Jones traveled over the Hudson to Newark, New Jersey, where he was the fan favorite and uncrowned king of the division. Jones dominated Shogun from the opening bell, eventually ending the fight in the third round via TKO to become the youngest champion in UFC history.


UFC 158: Georges St-Pierre-Nick Diaz in Montreal

Georges St-Pierre fought for the UFC welterweight title on five occasions in his native Canada, but it was the fifth time against Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in Montreal that brought the most animosity. The bad blood went back to 2011 when the two were originally scheduled to face off at UFC 137, but St-Pierre tore his ACL. When the matchup finally came to fruition at UFC 158, St-Pierre dominated Diaz for five rounds, winning an easy unanimous decision 50-45 on all three judges’ scorecards.


UFC 164: Benson Henderson-Anthony Pettis in Milwaukee

Anthony Pettis had won three in a row when the UFC announced he would face Benson Henderson in Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee at UFC 164. Henderson was looking for revenge against “Showtime” since the final event in WEC history back in 2010 when Pettis hit the “Showtime Kick” on Henderson en route to a decision win for the WEC lightweight title. In the rematch, Pettis took advantage of the fight on the ground, getting Henderson to submit to an armbar at 4 minutes, 41 seconds of the first round to become the new UFC lightweight champion.

It remains to be seen if Rousey is portrayed as the “enemy,” but typically the Brazilian crowd chants the infamous “uh vai morrer” (“you’re gonna die”) chant at any fighter not flying the “Ordem E Progresso” flag, representing Brazil to the cage. Only one fighter will be representing the Brazilian flag in Saturday’s main event -- and it won’t be Rousey.