The Quotable Miss Rousey
Few athletes have had the impact Ronda Rousey has had over the last couple years, and things arenít likely to slow down anytime soon as she prepares to make history on Saturday, February 23 as she defends her bantamweight crown against Liz Carmouche in the first ever womenís fight in the UFC. But before that UFC 157 main event in Anaheimís Honda Center (perhaps to be renamed the Ronda Center before the night is done), hereís a sampling of Miss Rouseyís thoughts on her career, her opposition, and life as the baddest woman on the planet.
DOES SHE FEEL THE BURDEN OF EXPECTATIONS WEIGHING HER DOWN?
ďI did that when I was younger. Iím over it.Ē
A DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS NO LONGER
ďWhen I was 16, I went on a sports show with my coach, and they were asking everybody questions and they came to me, asked me a question and I went Ďuhhhh.í (Laughs) I was totally a deer in the headlights for a minute, and I was like that for a while, completely horrified, and I think itís a learned skill, just like anything else. I couldnít even speak in full sentences until I was six years old. I was very shy, and all through high school I wore baggy clothes every day just to cover up my arms because I was just embarrassed. The self-confidence that people see in me now has developed over time. It didnít come to me from the beginning. It came mostly from doing well in sports. I felt that if I was amazing in something, Iím actually a cool person and I should think more of myself. Itís something about medals Ė having a tangible thing to hold in your hand, itís like Ďoh look, Iím awesome.íĒ
ďI was raised with the mentality that if youíre going to do anything, youíre gonna do it to be the best at it. Ever since I was a little kid, my dad told me that if youíre gonna swim, and youíre gonna be a swimmer, youíre gonna win the Olympics in swimming. And I switched from swimming to judo, and I was like Iím in judo, Iím gonna be a judo player and Iím gonna win the Olympics in judo. And when I switched to MMA, I completely have that same intent. So itís not a big change for me; Iím just trying to continue the same trend that Iíve been trying to follow since I was a little kid.Ē
ďI really think that a lot of things happen for a reason, even if you donít know it. Itís funny, my mom always has this line Ė I have a lot of mom lines I bring out all the time Ė that she got from my great grandmother, that God always knows what heís doing, even when you donít. And I always thought about that. If my dad didnít die, I never would have gone to the Olympics and got a medal.
ďSheís not shocked by anything I do, but she wasnít very supportive of it (fighting in MMA). She thought it wasnít very classy and she thought it was extremely dangerous, and what mother wants to see her baby get punched in the face? She did judo herself, but she really didnít see it as dangerous or barbaric as some people would see in contact sports. But MMA was something she was unfamiliar with, and itís so visually dramatic. I really think that MMAís not that dangerous; I think boxingís way more dangerous, but visually, itís just insane to watch. Itís like a real fight and I think itís hard for any mother, no matter how seasoned of an athlete she is.Ē
SURPRISED BY SUCCESS?
ďItís not surprising. I want myself to be perfect in every single match and I donít expect that it will always be perfect, but thatís what I always aim for, so when it does happen that way, Iím not surprised because thatís what I wanted to do in the first place.Ē
ďIím happy with the way things are going. If I can go my entire career without leaving the first round, Iím not gonna complain about it. I think winning a fight in 30 seconds is pretty damn skilful.Ē
THE BEST OF THE BEST
ďI want to be the undisputed, best pound-for-pound woman in the world in MMA, and I want to do it while looking good and being entertaining. I want to bring womenís MMA up to be just as respected as the men, and I feel that if thereís something you want to get done, you gotta do it yourself. I canít trust anybody else to do it for me, and Iím willing to put the work in and be that person.Ē
ďIím full of my momís sayings, and one of them was Ďno oneís easy until after you beat them. After youíre done, youíre like Ďah, that was easy,í but the weeks leading up to that are extremely difficult, and dealing with the mental rigors of going to fight somebody on national television, itís all difficult, even if the match itself isnít.Ē
ON GINA CARANO
ďI definitely donít think Iíve pushed her aside. Sheís the one coming out with a multi-million dollar movie (Haywire) in a couple months, and Iím not. (Laughs) But in the actual competition, Iím dealing with it (all the attention) fine. I expected it to be this way and I asked for it. This is what I wanted; I wanted not only to fight in womenís MMA, but to be the best at it and the most exciting at it. Iím just stoked at how things are going so far, and I really want to keep it going. When people watch this fight this weekend, I want the girls to steal the show. I want everyone to be like Ďhot damn, I want to see more of that.í And Iím just trying my best to keep it going.Ē
JUDO VS. MMA
ďThe difference between judo and MMA is that when I fought in my first amateur MMA fight, I was shocked that there was a room full of people cheering for me. (Laughs) Because every single time I fought, I was getting booed by everyone in the room, the referees were doing everything that they could to keep me from winning, they wouldnít give me any time on the ground, they would always give me horrible calls, and now Iím competing, and everyone complains about the referees in MMA, but theyíre not the least bit involved compared to judo. So people are cheering for me and the referees are just gonna let me fight for as long as I want and not get in the way? This is an amazing transition and Iím super stoked in MMA compared to judo.Ē
SPEAKING THE TRUTH
ďAsk any tattoo artist. Letís just say that women do have a higher pain tolerance than men do.Ē
ďIím not out to go and make 20,000-50,000 new friends. Iím just trying to do whatever I can to further my career, and if that involves accumulating some critics, they donít know me. They take a few fragments of information that they get about me and they make some sort of judgment about my character without even knowing me. And if someone that Iíll never meet is making a wrong judgment about me from very little information, thatís not really my problem at all, so I donít really feel that bad about it.Ē
CONFIDENT TO THE CORE
ďIf I wasnít me I wouldnít want to fight me because Iím the best female fighter in the world.Ē
THE ROOTS OF RONDA
ďI come from a very outspoken family of very empowered women, and when I was training as a kid, I kinda got bumped around to a lot of these fighter houses where I was hanging out with all men in their mid-20ís ever since I was around 13 or so. So I always kinda had more of a brash sense of humor and rapport with my teammates, and that compounded with very empowered and educated women in my family, and it kind of turned into the way I present myself today, which I admit is not very normal, but I donít think itís a bad thing.Ē
ďYou can always trip on the edge of the ring and fall on your face. Anything can happen and anybody can push you the distance, and it could be the person you least expect. So I just assume that every single person is a danger to me and that every single person is trying to beat me and hurt me, and Iím going to be prepared for every single person, no matter who it is.Ē
MAMA SAID 2
ďMy mom has a lot of lines. She also says Ďno one has the right to beat you, regardless of who they are.íĒ
LIFE IN THE SPOTLIGHT
ďIím dealing with it fine. Before, I was working three jobs and training full-time, and now because everything has been going so well, itís the same amount of work, but itís just different work. I donít have to do graveyard shifts anymore or show up for a 9 to 5 job; I just have more media obligations. But Iíve trained more than I ever have for any other fight before, even for the Olympics. This is the peak of my athletic career, and having to deal some extra media and all those other things, the only challenges are multi-tasking, organization, getting help with my schedule and getting enough rest. But thankfully, I have a very professional team behind me now thatís really helping me coordinate everything, so thatís pretty much how Iím dealing with it Ė I get a lot of outside help with organization. But I always put my training first and all the other things come second.Ē
ONE TRICK PONY?
ďWhen people say that Iím a one trick pony and only have the one armbar, they donít realize that I have so many setups to that armbar that I donít even know them all Ė Iíll make them up on the fly. When youíre watching boxing and you see somebody knock someone out with a right hand every time, theyíre not like Ďoh, theyíre a one trick pony.í No, they have a billion different setups for that right hand. And just because it ended with a right hand on the face, it doesnít mean itís the same thing every time. And just because so many people are unfamiliar with grappling and they just see the armbar ending the same, they assume the setupís the same, but if you look back at all those fights, Iíve jumped into that armbar from many different positions. It ends the same way, but the setups are always different. So they can prepare for a certain setup, but Iím always gonna think of more.Ē
ďContrary to what a lot of people believe, I never underestimate a single opponent,Ē she said. ďI always assume that theyíre going to be the best Iím ever going to be facing, the best version of them thatís ever going to be seen, and the very first opening I see, Iím gonna go for it. Iím not going to be cocky enough to think that I can let certain openings slip by so I can finish the fight in a style that I think is cooler. I assume that if I see one opening to finish a fight, that could be the only one I will ever see and I have to capitalize on it. I never relax in a fight, thinking that Iím such a shoo-in that I can finish in any way I want. Iím always so worried that there might be only one chance or no chances for me to see a finish, so I have to try and create and capitalize on every single thing that I see.Ē
ďItís extremely satisfying because that was my goal from the very beginning. I wanted to gain the respect of people that I respected and I knew that I was capable. Itís funny, but you can see on some old interviews that I did where I said ĎIím gonna make these people love me, Iím gonna make these people respect me, and all I have to do is win and win impressively.í Itís not like theyíre gonna put me in the middle of an arena and be like Ďokay, hereís a model airplane, put it together in 60 seconds.í (Laughs) I have no idea how to do that. But my mom was making me drill judo and armbars and being a fighter and an athlete ever since I can remember. I canít remember not being an athlete. Itís just doing what comes natural, and I feel like Iíve always been deserving of that respect, but I have to do things to earn it.Ē