Ronda Rousey has been around the block but in a good way. Born in Riverside, CA she had an uncomfortable upbringing emotionally and suffered from a speech impediment until the age of six. She took the name of her father Ron Rousey after he committed suicide in 1995.
Her mother AnnMaria De Mars was already a decorated judoka (someone who practices judo) and was the first American to win a World Judo Championship in 1984, three years before Rousey was born. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Rousey began training in the martial art aged 11, under the tutelage of De Mars. Between 2004 and 2008, she won plenty of awards in the sport including gold at the World Junior Judo Championships in Budapest, silver at the 2007 World Judo Championships in Rio, and bronze at the Olympic Games in China.
After the Olympics, Rousey retired from judo and began a career in Mixed Martial Arts, something she had been trained in previously. While learning the art of judo, she had already fought MMA-style at Hayastan MMA Academy run by Gokor Chivichyan. It was here that she gained much of her MMA experience fighting male compatriots such as Manny Gamburyan and Karo Parisyan.
Her MMA titles came thick and fast, but with it, a notoriety for arrogance and hubris, things which in the end came back to bite her. Let’s have a look at the top 20 highs and lows of Rousey’s career with pictures Rousey’s fiancé, UFC fighter Travis Browne, would definitely want to be taken down.
20. A Friend In Need
Rousey grew up like any Californian girl, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. She struggled with body image for most of her life and even in a 2015 interview with the New York Times remarked, “I swear to God, if anyone calls me fat one more time in my life, I’m going to kill them.” In truth, there have been some unpleasant things said about Rousey, which stem from a media obsession with what is and isn’t body “perfection.” That said, Rousey obviously has some very close friends with whom she’s able just to let rip and forget any unwanted attention. What’s more, going by her account of her upbringing and early days training, things seemed to be on the right path. “Even if nobody believed me, I believed it,” she told the paper. “I was so happy and alive and so convinced that everything that I was doing was right.”
19. Growing Up
According to the Mail Online, Rousey dropped out of high school to train for the 2004 Olympics but didn’t make the cut; she did, however, come back again undeterred to win bronze in Beijing. Shortly afterward, she took a bartending job and said she would “start each day with a shot of vodka and a cigarette and had a growing Vicodin habit.” Growing up, she would also be the first to admit she hasn’t had a great deal of luck with men, but at least, with Browne, she looks happy. According to a 2015 published biography by sister Maria Burns Ortiz, “My Fight / Your Fight” there have been a string of poor choices and some rather odd revelations. Growing up, her nickname for any man she dated was “Bob,” completed with a numbered suffix to differentiate each one. She recalls a boyfriend who cheated on her and caused her a brief STD scare and another who took nude photos of her without consent.
18. What’s She Drinking?
The first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo, Rousey has been criticized for her arrogance when in the ring and has previously said she could defeat everyone in her division, “with one arm tied behind my back.” But she also has the same sorts of pressures in life we all face and those include her own mother urging her to retire from MMA. So not only has she now lost her two comeback fights and must surely be considering her options for the future, but also, she has her mother on at her to pack it in completely. As if all these weren’t enough, the Mail Online, earlier this year, reported on vandalism at Rousey’s house on Venice Beach. Recently, the former champion took to Instagram with a carefully worded phrase, which told of what we imagine to be a great deal of stress: “And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
17. Dana White Touches Her Rear
Here’s a little picture that will probably pique the interest of Browne. The Sportster reported on a brief meeting between Rousey and President of the Mixed Martial Arts organization Dana White. Talk about sensationalizing the mundane, the zine speculated that Rousey and White had gotten a little “too close” for comfort and suggested that White’s “favoritism” toward the 30-year-old was something about more than just friends. While we don’t condone speculative journalism or false news, it does seem like the two of them were enjoying each other’s company a little too much. What’s more, how did White’s hand land squarely on Rousey’s excellently honed gluteus, and why didn’t she remove it? Surely a friendly hug requires the hand to be above the waist at all times; still, these are modern times, and as such, an open display of affection and bum-patting can be excused.
16. Travis Browne Beat His Ex
Here’s one picture Travis Browne won’t want to see again in a hurry. After his then-estranged wife, Jenna Renee Webb, discovered his links with Rousey, she posted up a brief missive on Instagram which read like something out of “Dangerous Liaisons.” The post ended with a stark warning: “When he hits you across your pretty face don’t worry, I’ll be right here to say #IToldYouSo I wish you both the best #yourewelcome #hyprocrite #thankyou”, which was swiftly followed by several pictures from Webb reportedly of injuries sustained by a physical Browne. Although he denied accusations of wife-battery, Browne underwent investigation; he was cleared, and the police didn’t press charges. However, the whole thing must have left a bad taste in his and Rousey’s mouth. Webb and Browne eventually did get divorced, leaving the latter free to engage Rousey, which he did in April of this year.
15. Nunes Fights Back
As well as a barrage of abuse on social media shortly after Rousey’s defeat by Amanda Nunes, Rousey faced further insults from the victor. 28-year-old Nunes took delight in her victory at the UFC 207 in December last year. She kept up the insults and jibes against her former rival since the win by calling for Rousey’s retirement and predicting that a new career in the movies awaits her, according to the Mail Online. After telling spectators after the fight to, “forget about Ronda Rousey,” Nunes continued the salvo by photoshopping a picture of a mother pushing a buggy, with her face on the mother and Rousey’s on the baby, sharing it on Twitter and allowing it to filter across the internet. Nunes later added, “That’s it for her [Rousey]; for sure, she’s going to retire.” She later apologized to Rousey on Instagram.
14. That SI Shoot…
There’s no denying that Rousey’s run of success in MMA was an inspiration to many; in particular, she became a paragon of female strength (if not overly so). Martial Art is a grueling discipline and yet is renowned for developing and maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Undoubtedly, it was her mother’s influence that propelled Rousey to become the fourth-ranked female bantamweight fighter in the world, and yet, we cant help feeling that her tendency toward animalistic behavior is holding her back. If she does return to the cage, it’s her mental attitude that will allow her to sink or swim. And that’s important for the sport, too; in spite of the tremendous evolution of female athletes over recent years, anger and aggression like Rousey’s, seen in her weigh-in snarls and her short violent fights, are still considered by many to be a little too “discomforting.”
13. These Boots Are Mighty Small For A UFC Champ…
After her string of successes in the MMA, a 2012 signing to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a spot in Maxim’s Hot 100, and movie roles in films, it seemed to the world that Rousey’s arrogance was getting the better of her. Having worked hard in judo and having dedicated the next few years of her life to training in MMA, Rousey was a born fighter, but the only thing she was missing was a little humility. In an interview with magazine Esquire in 2015 before her UFC 93 bout with Holly Holm, Rousey said of her fans, “There are just some days where you just don’t have energy for anyone. I used to love people-watching in Venice; now, they watch me”. This picture paints a story of someone at the top of her game but also a little too preoccupied with glamour.
12. What’s Jon Jones Looking At?
It’s another one of those moments when you suspect more has been said than anyone dare admit. Rousey certainly has adoring fans, and if Browne’s looking for his next match, perhaps Jon Jones will get a call. The center of attention yet again, Rousey takes her seat at a UFC conference only to be helped by an adoring Jones, who takes the opportunity to check out the Olympic champion’s assets. With a momentary cupping of the right breast to boot, Rousey has not only lit up the face of the two-time UFC former Light Heavyweight Champion but so too aroused the interest of the man seated in the background, none other than Irish hard-man Conor McGregor. However, she’s known to play along to charades, so perhaps we’re seeing the combat-sport starlet in her element.
11. Rousey The Sore Loser?
OK, so Rousey is famed for not making an apology about “trash-talking” her UFC opponents; she uses the anger that wells up from her difficult childhood and body-image issues to better her game, but at the 2015 weigh-in with Holly Holm, things seemed to get a little out of hand. Whereas the 35-year-old Holm, from Albuquerque, New Mexico approached the scales with a pre-match calmness, Rousey made a bid for Holm’s chin as soon as she stepped up. According to reports, Holm “kept her composure throughout the experience,” leaving Rousey already looking like the loser. Rousey, afterward, accused Holm of being fake, prompting UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans to call the Californian’s behavior “disgusting.” Rousey finished the weigh-in with the promise she would show the world “why she was champion,” which turned out to be famous last words.
10. The Collapse
Rashad Evans, in an interview with MMA Alpha, suspects Rousey’s arrogance was her downfall against Holly Holm. “If you recall Ronda going into the fight with Holly Holm, she was uber-confident, she was almost disrespectful, you know?” he said of Rousey. “No one can be champion as well as me and just her arrogance…” And in some ways, it’s hardly surprising that Rousey lost to a virtually unknown star of the ring, having been so fired up and seemingly “emotional” in front of 56,000 fans at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. “You know where you step into that spotlight to have a great performance,” says Evans, “You also got to understand you may not have a great performance, and you got to understand that you may be criticized for what you didn’t do or what you could’ve done or whatever.”
9. The Middle Finger
Rousey enjoys using her middle finger. Before she faced the now retired American mixed martial artist Miesha Tate, she met Tate on the scales and couldn’t resist flipping the bird in her face. Tate responded with a trademark snarl. The fight went in Rousey’s favor, but such an aggressive stance must have lost her some fans. Rousey finally submitted Tate in the third round to retain her Bantamweight Championship in 2013. We think anyone who sports a role-model persona and who is evidence of how a troubled upbringing can lay the foundation of great success should be considering how this comes across.
8. Freeze Frame
Ah, freeze frame, a moment in time, snapped for prosperity. If anyone of us is caught in an unguarded pose or with a face that shows a momentary grimace, we’re not going to look good. However you feel about the unfairness of public life, this snapshot of Rousey made it onto the web. Possibly as a consequence of her cavalier reputation, it stands as a less than flattering image of her. The frame was taken from NBC’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon ahead of her Holm fight, which makes it an even more poignant warning against hubris and negativity. The stunning starlet of the cage, she was true to form when talking about Holm: “I’m the champion because I’m the best in every area. If I haven’t gotten the chance to prove it so much with my other opponents, then Holly is a blessing because I’ll be able to display what I’m really capable of.”
7. After The Knockout
Early in the second round of UFC 193, Holly Holm knocked out reigning champion Rousey with a brutal high kick to the neck. Rousey fell to the ground and lay there for several minutes while being attended to by her people. To no avail, though, Rousey couldn’t recover from the blow and lost out. Several minutes later, Rousey was returned to her corner and sat in mental and physical shock, blood pouring from her lip. She was presumably trying to comprehend what had just happened. Both Rousey and Holm received a $50,000 payout (UFC Fight of the Night bonus), but surely, for Rousey, the pain of finally losing her title couldn’t be eased by the amount. To make matters worse, she was suspended from the ring for medical evaluation, meaning no fights for 60 days. As it happened, she was medically cleared a month later.
6. Confidence Or Arrogance?
Rousey talks the big talk, and that’s something that will always divide the crowd; it will either inspire the fans to be tough and self-confident, or it will turn against her others who believe that humility and modesty are essential attributes of a first-rate sportsperson. True, comments like “I’m the champion for a reason” prior to a fight that you lose may make you look a little silly, but she’s hardly going to go into it saying, “Yeah, we’ll see.” That’s just not the way things work. While many love to hate her self-promotion, let’s look at what that’s brought her so far: in May 2015, the most “dominant” active athlete; in September 2015, the “Best Female Athlete Ever;” ranked #4 female bantamweight fighter in the world according to the UFC.
5. How The Mighty Fall
Back to the Holm fight and Rousey’s dismal walk from the ring. Despite being an odds-on favorite, the defending champion couldn’t get Holm to the ground and found her strikes punishing. In the opening few moments, Rousey’s usual flair was noticeably lacking, leading Holm to avoid most of her opponent’s assault and allowing her the opportunity to counter. Holm’s energy in the cage was obviously in excess of Rousey’s as Holm began to pick the champion apart; a review of the match talked of Rousey’s “wild strikes [causing] her to nearly fall on her face.” Was this underwhelming performance the manifestation of overconfidence or untamed aggression? It’s possible, but either way, Holm’s winning kick sealed the deal on the championship and forced Rousey into a defeat that she clearly wasn’t used to.
4. Remember Brendan Schaub?
When retired American mixed martial artist Brendan Schaub started dating Rousey, it looked like a match made in heaven. Both hot stars of the UFC, the relationship went strong but ended in 2014. Since then, things have gone a little sour between them, and there was definitely no talk of making up. Speaking candidly on Joe Rogan’s Fight Companion Show in 2015, the 34-year-old spoke unflatteringly of his former beau. “Believe me, I did her a favor man. I’m not that guy for the job. I’m just not,” Schaub told listeners. “I’m too much [of a man]. She needs a guy who’s going to take a backseat. That’s not me. She also needs a guy that’s going to say ‘yes ma’am,’” he said. “She’s so successful, she’s surrounded by people that worship her and go ‘yes, yes, that’s a great idea.’ But when I said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea,’ now I’m a hater.”
3. Low Point
Early in 2016, Rousey appeared on Ellen to talk life, love, and work. She got some surprisingly hard-hitting questions from the host who wanted to know more (as we all did) about that defeat against Holm. Not wishing to make any excuses for losing, Rousey tried to find answers, but couldn’t, and soon began to cry. Let’s face facts: if you’ve dedicated the best part of your life to a discipline like MMA and taken with that all the sacrifices and hardships, then it doesn’t matter what sort of person you are… when you lose, it hurts. And her hurt manifested on Ellen as she broke down remembering the post-match medical treatment, sitting in the corner of the medic bay feeling defeated and thinking, “What am I anymore if I’m not this? No one gives a sh*t about me anymore.”
2. The Final Fight
UFC 207, which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada back in December 2016 was Rousey’s last fight. Whether she’ll come back from her second defeat in a row is unclear, but what we do know is that her reign — which at times seemed tyrannical — is at an end thanks to Brazilian Amanda Nunes. According to bleacherreport.com, Nunes is “much crisper and more technically sound on the feet. She’s still a lethal puncher who occasionally gets a bit wild, but her fundamentals have drastically improved.” Pitted against Rousey, who uses her trademark armbar to devastating effect, the match was considered by some to be a humdinger of promise. It turned out to be very little more than a rout with Nunes laying into the former champ while Rousey seemed to just stand with her opponent and take the beating. Picked apart with clean lefts and rights, Rousey was out in no time and wondering what had hit her.
1. The Future
So what’s next for the former champ? Was Nunes right about her burgeoning film career? It doesn’t seem to be taking off anytime soon. So maybe a rest is as good as a change; after all, it’s only been a handful of months since the famous last fight. The most important thing is to stick with what you know and take criticism wisely.
We’ll leave you with some words from UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson on Rousey’s current state of mind. “You got your ass beat,” Johnson tells her, “Grow the f—k up. It happens. It’s mixed martial arts. I don’t want to be like that. If I lose, I’ll be like, ‘I lost.’ Everybody f—ing loses. It’s part of the sport. Grow up. Look, Ronda, you lost two f—ing fights in a row, and you made more f—ing money than the women’s roster. You’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.”