The UFC was ruled by the male gender for the first 20 years of its existence. The closest any female got to the octagon was the scantily clad ring girls who held up the signs to indicate which round it was. All that changed in 2013, when Dana White finally saw the light and realized that there were some serious female fighters out there, all looking for UFC glory. Enter Ronda Rousey.
The blond bombshell and former Olympic medalist in Judo who also packs a helluva punch. She was 6-0 when she came to the UFC, and was immediately declared UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion (without even fighting). At the time, Anderson Silva was injured, Georges St. Pierre was possibly retired, and Brock Lesnar was back in the WWE, so the UFC pushed Rousey hard into the mainstream consciousness as their next big star.
Although her career seems to have ended with a whimper, as back-to-back devastating losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes appear to have driven her into MMA retirement, you can’t discount the incredible impact she had on the sport during her time as champion. Here are eight things you probably didn’t know about “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
8. Olympic Medalist
Rousey won a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in Judo, becoming the first American woman to medal in the sport. She also has a silver and gold medal from the 2007 World Championships and Pan American Games, respectively. Her judo skills are frequently on display in the octagon, as she often used amazing judo throws to take down her opponents. It should be no surprise either, as her mother was also a decorated judo fighter.
7. First (UFC) Women’s Champion
She won her first MMA championship in March of 2012, defeating Misha Tate for the (now defunct) Strikeforce Bantamweight title. When Strikeforce was purchased by the UFC, Dane White immediately declared her the UFC champion, making history as the first Women’s champion in the organizations history. She is also responsible for White changing his mind about the inclusion of female fighters in the UFC, something that had never been done in its 20 year history. She was one of the most dominant champions in UFC history before being upset by Holly Holm in 2015.
6. Trash Talking
Ronda might look like a sweet girl when posing for pictures, but in the rough sport of mixed martial arts, she acts exactly like the boys do. Trash talking and soul piercing stare downs are some of her best skills. Before her fight with Sarah Kaufman, Rousey said she was going to rip off Kaufman’s arm with an armbar, and throw it at her corner, and threatened to pound her face to death. No one is sure how serious she is about it, as she has openly stated it is a great way to generate more interest and publicity for her fights, and the sport in general.
5. Armbar Specialist
Before two brutal defeats that may have ended her UFC career, Rousey was a perfect 12-0. Of those 12 wins, nine of them were by armbar submission. Of those nine armbars, eight of them came in the very first round. It was amazing to watch how easily she trapoed her opponents in the hold, especially since every single one of them knows it was coming. They trained for months to avoid it. And yet, in the end, almost everyone Rousey faced off against ended up losing the same way. Attributing the skill to her mother, the armbar was definitely Rousey’s go-to move in the cage.
4. WWE Superfan
It turns out MMA isn’t the only combat sport Ronda Rousey is interested in. She is also known to be a huge fan of the WWE, often tweeting out support for her favorite wrestlers. She was a proud member of Daniel Bryan’s ‘#YESMovement’, and she has confessed to having a small crush on former champion CM Punk. Even her professional life had elements of pro wrestling, as together with her roommates (who are also MMA fighters), she puts on fight clinics under the name “The Four Horsewomen,” an obvious tribute to the legendary wrestling stable from the 80’s and 90’s.
She appeared at WrestleMania 31 alongside The Rock, and if rumors are to be believed, she could be on her way to the WWE in a more permanent way.
3. Vegan Lifestyle
At one point in her life, directly following her Olympic medal victory, Rousey was a vegan. She claimed it didn’t affect her MMA training or career at all, but she has since switched back to what she calls a “warrior diet”, one that is high in protein and filled with eggs, fish, and grain-fed meat. Whatever she is eating, it is clearly working.
2. Aspiring Actress
Following the UFC Championship, the magazine covers, and TV specials, Rousey has dipped into the glamour and glitz of Hollywood. In 2013, it was announced that Ronda would appear in The Expendables 3, the first time she will appear in a major movie. Shortly after that, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) announced that Rousey would also have a role in the upcoming installment of the Fast and Furious movies. After that, her stardom only grew. She appeared in the Entourage movie and landed a lead role in Fighter in the Sky. However, after her high profile losses, her star power lost some of its shine. A big budget remake of the classic Road House film, with Rousey as the star, was cancelled. She’s appeared in a couple TV episodes since, but maybe a reemergence in a WWE ring will make her an attractive casting option in Hollywood again.
1. Nickname Approval
Her friends originally gave her the nickname “Rowdy.” But when she started to win fights and get recognized, she opposed using the name, thinking it would be disrespectful to the late original “Rowdy,” Roddy Piper from the WWE. However, after the two met, Piper personally approved her use of the name. That is a high level endorsement from the original Hot Rod himself.