When Ronda Rousey made the bold decision to put her No. 1 pick in the women's division against Miesha Tate's top pick on The Ultimate Fighter last week, she had an unexpected supporter backing up her choice—none other than Tate's assistant coach Bryan Caraway.
The long, sordid history between Rousey and Caraway (who is also Tate's longtime boyfriend) stretches back well over a year to when the now coaches were rivals in Strikeforce about to battle for the women's bantamweight title in that promotion.
The feud has never slowed down, and it's rare that Rousey can go an entire interview without somebody asking about Caraway, knowing it's going to illicit a colorful response from the UFC champion.
So it may seem like a surprise that Caraway was agreeing with Rousey on the fact the sky was actually blue, much less a decision she made as coach on the reality show.
He knew that Tate's top pick Julianna Pena was an underrated fighter, but after coaching and training her at their home gym in Washington, Caraway had no doubts that she could put away Rousey's No. 1 choice, veteran fighter Shayna Baszler.
When it was all over, Pena submitted Baszler by second round rear naked choke in one of the biggest upsets in Ultimate Fighter history. It was the exact kind of moment Caraway knew could throw the momentum into his team's corner.
Following Pena's win, he turned it into an inspirational message for the rest of the team.
"Everybody, every single one of you on our team thought she was going to lose," Caraway said when telling the story on MMA's Great Debate Radio. "Look what happened. She went out there and dominated round two, beat her up and finished her and I said 'that can be you'. If you even have a moment of doubt that should take your doubt away."
Following the win by Pena, Team Tate got to choose the next fight in the house amongst the men so they chose Team Alpha Male fighter and submission specialist Chris Holdsworth to take on Rousey's No. 1 pick in the men, Chris Beal.
Prior to the fight selection, Beal had revealed that he suffered a hand injury in his elimination fight to enter the house and was fearful that he might get chosen to compete first, which would result in him entering the bout at well less than 100-percent health.
Rousey took offense to Tate's choice, and went off on an emotional tirade about picking an injured fighter to compete.
As Caraway explains it, choosing Beal had less to do with his hand injury and more the fact that he was Rousey's No. 1 pick. They were turning the tables on the former Olympian and trying to pick off her top choice the same way she did to them a week earlier.
"We won the fight and Chris Beal was her No. 1 pick," Caraway said. "We didn't just pick him because of his hurt hand, that was a little teeny factor they put on the show, but there was a lot more going into that fight. We liked that matchup."
What followed from Rousey was a tearful, emotional and expletive laden outburst aimed at Tate, Caraway and anybody else within an earshot of her voice.
The tirade came after earlier in the episode when Rousey burst into the training center at the exact minute her team was supposed to begin training while shouting at Team Tate to get out.
Prior to the start of the season, Rousey expressed concerns about how she might be portrayed on the show after some of the antics that happened during filming.
Caraway says after witnessing episode two on Wednesday that there's more of that coming soon, and it gets even worse.
"Everybody's eventually going to see that," Caraway said about Rousey. "I think it's going to be hard for The Ultimate Fighter to edit out how she is. I do believe they have been editing in her favor because she is the UFC world champion. I just want people to see her for who she really is—she's kind of a stuck up, snotty person and just very bitter all the time, very angry. She seems very, very angry pants all the time. I just hope that gets out."
Caraway's remarks are going to be met with vitriol, even if he says Rousey was the greatest person in the world to work with, just because of the volatile nature of their public spat over the last year.
If anything, Caraway is happy to just let the show speak for itself and when people witness what Rousey is capable of doing, he's sure the pendulum of popular opinion might shift away from the current women's champion.
"I'm not just saying this, I don't have any more bitter feelings over Ronda," Caraway said. "I let a fan rile me up and get under my skin a year and a half ago and I said some things not even towards Ronda, but about her skill set and some theories, and used some stupid words and she chose to use that in battle."
"I feel like Ronda, and I don't have any hatred towards her, but I feel like she just like she's just kind of a snobby person. She can be nice, everybody can be nice, everybody has different sides to them, but I think she was worried about how she is coming off because she knows how she is. She knows what kind of person deep down inside that she is. That's what she's worried about."
For his part and on behalf of Tate, Caraway says they were done with the drama surrounding Rousey's antics the moment they arrived on set to begin filming the show.
Caraway was a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter during season 14 of the show so he knows what the fighters are going through and how hard the six weeks spent away from their home and families can be on them.
Caraway says he came to the show with the goal of helping the fighters on Tate's team improve and win fights. The rivalry with Rousey had nothing to do with them and they agreed to just let her be angry, nasty and heated the entire time and they would just stay on course to coach their fighters to victory.
"We can't fight fire with fire. We can't thrive off of negativity like she does," Caraway said. "When we did it was just bad for us, so we decided to be better and not bitter. Everybody sees who we really are. We're there for the fighters. It was about them."
Team Tate will try to keep control of the fight selection next week when Holdsworth meets Beal in the first matchup between the bantamweight men on the show.
The new episode of The Ultimate Fighter debuts Wednesday night at 10pm ET on Fox Sports 1.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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