Ronda Rousey went from an Olympic medalist to an undefeatable UFC legend to a … WWE diva? No wonder her fans feel a bit confused. She’s the type of public figure you either love or hate; it’s really hard to remain indifferent to her. But one thing’s for sure, Ronda is a good fighter. She didn’t become the first female UFC champion out of pure luck.
Over four years fighting MMA, Ronda didn’t just beat her opponents – she crushed them. But a loss to Holly Holm in 2015 threw her off balance. And from that point on, her career took some weird turns. Let’s see what’s the real story behind Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, the so-called “Baddest Woman on the Planet.”
Ronda Jean Rousey was born on February 1, 1987, with the umbilical cord around her neck. She almost died of suffocation. Luckily, she pulled through and ultimately inhaled her first breath of fresh air. But the traumatic delivery had a slight impact on the development of Rousey’s brain.
She struggled with her speech until the age of six, and the differences between her and her classmates were pretty evident. In comparison to the others, Ronda seemed a bit behind. So, her mom pulled her out of school, and Ronda spent most of her elementary and high school education studying at home.
Ronda’s father, Ron, broke his back one day when he was out skiing with his girls. The injury was so severe he was informed he would probably remain paralyzed from the waist down. Moreover, Ron suffered from a blood disorder that made it difficult for his body to heal appropriately.
Ron fell into a deep depression and ultimately took his own life. Ronda was only eight years old. Today, she isn’t afraid to speak up about the event and believes we should stop stigmatizing suicide as a taboo subject. She stresses that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Ronda is a self-professed sea lover who used to doodle dolphins and other sea creatures all over her notebooks. As a kid, she didn’t really see herself knocking people unconscious in a ring; she saw herself as a marine biologist instead.
Ultimately, we all know where she ended up: in a ring, knocking the consciousness out of her opponents. But it took her a while to get there. Growing up, she worked as a bartender, cocktail waitress, and even a canine physical therapy assistant.
In Ronda’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Her mom, AnnMaria De Mars, is a former UFC champion and the first American to win a gold medal at the World Judo Championships. She began training her daughter from a young age (11), and after two years, Ronda grew so strong she accidentally broke her mom’s wrist!
After the accident, AnnMaria decided it was time to sign her daughter up for some serious, professional training. At first, Ronda was a bit frustrated by the transition because she wasn’t used to fighting large men. But she never let herself get too discouraged.
The more Rousey trained, the bigger her body grew and the stronger she felt. But a bulky muscular body isn’t always “acceptable” if you’re a girl. And Ronda had to deal with some nasty remarks by her peers in high school.
The kids started teasing her, yelling at her to “flex” and show off her big guns. She felt so humiliated about her toned arms that even when the weather outside was scorching hot, she would cover herself up with a long-sleeved hoodie.
At only 17, Ronda was the youngest judoka to qualify for the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. And even though she lost to silver medalist Claudia Heill, she didn’t end 2004 on a bad note, because later that year, she won a gold medal at the World Junior Judo Championships in Hungary.
In 2006, Ronda entered the ring again and, this time claimed gold at the Birmingham World Cup in Great Britain. A year later, she won the silver medal at the World Judo Championships and the gold medal at the Pan American Games. Fast forward a year later! And yet again, another win for Ronda. This time, a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
After her successful Olympics streak, Ronda decided to back off a bit and rethink her career. At the time, she was juggling jobs, waitressing, and bartending, and money was pretty scarce. Rousey knew she had to come to a decision quick.
No matter what career came to mind, she realized she couldn’t really see herself doing it. In the end, she decided that “regular jobs” just weren’t for her, and she would be better off sticking to what she knew best – martial arts.
The guys who trained with Ronda had no doubt she was one bad a** fighter who would make a great professional MMA athlete. But they thought her face was “too sweet to be hit” and found it hard to imagine her in the ring throwing punches with other women.
But Ronda couldn’t care less what other people thought. On August 6, 2010, she debuted against Hayden Munoz, and after 23 short seconds in the ring, the match was over. Ronda won by submission after she locked her opponent with a move known as the armbar.
Looking at Ronda’s amateur career, her achievements are simply mind blowing. She holds the record for three wins with no defeats, and all her matches lasted less than a minute. Let’s just say no one was surprised when she decided to go pro.
Her first 12 professional matches were win after win after win. Again, pretty mind blowing. She won most of them by submission thanks to her signature armbar, and only three of them lasted more than a minute. At this point in her career, Ronda was known as a dangerous force to be reckoned with.
Women who have battled Ronda have plenty of things to say about her. One recurring theme is her dizzying speed. Fighter Autumn King dished, “To me, her reactionary times felt as quick as the guys at our pro practice. She was so fast. I trained at Team Quest, and I probably only felt an armbar go that fast once before.”
Sarah Kaufman added, “You just don’t think she can start that fast. I mean, you know she starts fast, but you’re in there saying, ‘I’m ready. My eyes are open. I’m warmed up.’ But even then, it’s like, ‘Oh, there she goes.'”
Rousey’s sister confessed it was terrifying to be around Ronda before any of her matches. She trained like crazy and trimmed down as much as she could in order to be in her fittest shape ever. In other words, in the two-week lead up before a fight, Ronda was angry, hungry, and impatient.
From her workout schedule to her nutrition to her rest days, everything was planned out to perfection, all so she could excel in the octagon. Makes sense, right? You don’t get as good as Ronda by lying on the couch all day eating fries.
In 2015, Ronda came face to face with the fighter who finally took her down – Holly Holm. She found it difficult to keep up with Holm’s quick punches and struggled to pin her to the ground. After one unfortunate stumble and a strong blow from her opponent, Ronda was out.
Her loss wasn’t as physically painful as it was mentally. Thoughts of self-doubt started creeping in, and she had a terribly hard time bouncing back. When she came back a year later to fight against Amanda Nunes, she lost again. Fans were worried, was this the end of Ronda Rousey?
Ronda’s background is in Judo. This means that she’s an expert at grappling and is less skillful when it comes to striking. But her coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, convinced her she was as good a boxer as, for example, Holly Holm – an actual pro boxer.
At one point, Ronda’s mom begged her to switch her mentor, calling him “a terrible coach.” But Ronda stuck with Edmond until the very (bitter) end, and it’s hard to understand why. What did her coach have to say in response to the critics? “It doesn’t matter what people say.”
In 2011, UFC President Dana White confidently said he will NEVER allow a female fight in his octagon. A year later, Ronda Rousey became the first female competitor to sign with the UFC and the first women’s champion in the sport after she beat Liz Karmouche.
Rousey’s undeniable success convinced White that women deserved to step in his precious octagon. So, say what you want about Ronda (overrated, done for, tired), but she opened the doors to so many women in the field, and that’s something significant.
After Rousey’s loss to Holm and Nunes, she vanished from the public eye. The “Unquestionable Queen” was now in a very, very questionable position. Thoughts of retirement left a big lump in her throat, and she was finding it hard to think clear.
When Holly Holm heard Rousey felt suicidal after their match, she understood all too well. She mentioned how easily you can spiral into self-doubt after losing a match, so the best thing to do is surround yourself with family and friends.
Why would this talented judoka step into the ring of the World Wrestling Entertainment? That’s what fans wanted to know when they heard Rousey signed her soul away to a field that can hardly be called fighting. What caused this Olympic medalist to turn her back on her athletic career and become a WWE diva?
Ronda explained she was always a huge fan of wrestling and felt that this was her opportunity to make WWE more “mainstream” and approachable for girls all over the world. To be fair, that’s exactly what happened. In 2019, for the first time ever (all thanks to Ronda), women got to headline in WWE’s event, WrestleMania.
Many people aren’t buying Ronda’s “I’ve always been a fan of WWE” remark. They have a different explanation as to why she joined – money. No longer the “baddest woman on the plant” with an unbeatable MMA streak, Ronda had to explore a different path to secure her financial future.
And we don’t blame her. Ronda’s base salary in the WWE was around $1.5 million, making her the highest paid female star on the show. Other divas make between $350,000 to $550,000. Yeah, WWE definitely knew how good they had it when they signed Ronda.
Rousey’s performances in the WWE were spectacular, to no one’s surprise. She even managed to lift Triple H onto her back (until his wife stepped in, because well … it’s the WWE). She won the Raw Women’s Championship and broke the record for the longest reign – 231 days.
But after losing her title to Becky Lynch in a Triple Threat main event, Ronda disappeared from the ring. So, what happened? Was Ronda that much of a sore loser she couldn’t cope with the loss, even if it was evidently for entertainment purposes?
According to Ronda, one of the reasons she quit the WWE was to start a family. But the other reason had to do with the way fans treated her. Ronda mentioned she would rather spend time with her loved ones than dedicate her life to “f*cking ungrateful” fans.
I guess some fans weren’t too happy about her constant triumphs in the ring and felt like she was pretty much terrorizing the divas. But have no fear! Ronda is under contract with the WWE until April 2021. So, there’s still a slight chance for a comeback.
Ronda decided to put her stardom to good use, and what another way to do so than to let Hollywood know you’re ready to take on the silver screen? In 2014, she starred in the film The Expendables 3, where she starred along with some of the greatest names in Hollywood.
A year later, she put on a glamorous dress and beat Michelle Rodriguez up in Fast and Furious 7. Michelle admitted she wasn’t scared to face Ronda, “Hell no [I wasn’t scared]! I want her to whoop my a**. If anything, I’m begging for it!”
Despite how hard Ronda trained throughout her career, she always found time to dedicate herself to her other great love, animals. During one of her training sessions, she worked part-time at CARE, an Animal Rehabilitation Center in California.
She provided the dogs in the center with acupuncture, helped them use the treadmills, and assisted the staff in whatever job was needed. Ronda has even saved a few stray dogs in her life by getting them off the street and nurturing them in her home.
For most of us, stepping in a ring and getting our face punched and our stomach kicked is a pretty scary ordeal. But that’s not what scares Ronda. You’ll be surprised to discover that the one thing Ronda fears isn’t a person’s fist, but what can happen if you carelessly flip through a notebook.
Yes, Ronda is scared of papercuts. I understand that slicing your finger isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world, but is it really worse than getting slammed to the ground with ruthless punches? For a girl who has dealt with broken bones and dislocated limbs, this is a pretty funny fear.
Ronda won nine of her 12 wins in her MMA career via armbar – a move where you basically pull your opponent’s arm to the point where they believe you’re about to rip it off. How did she get so good at it? She’s had some great trainers through the years, but her ultimate teacher was her mom.
Ronda revealed to Fightline how she got so good at her trademark move: “If your mom woke you up in the morning jumping on top of you and being like, ‘Always be ready. Armbar now!’ — that’s kind of like how it gets ingrained in your brain.”
Ronda marketed herself brilliantly in her MMA career. She had the skills to back it up, but she knew how to get the crowd going not only through her great performances but also by calling herself “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, inspired by her hero, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
She asked for the wrestler’s blessing before she took on his nickname, and he gladly gave it to her. She’s been a wrestling fan all her life, so to be able to call herself after her WWE superstar hero was a great honor.
Let’s be honest. Not many guys would dare date a UFC female fighter. Guys are usually physically stronger than women and by a longshot. And we’re so used to that dynamic that unless you’re as tough and strong as an MMA beast, it’s unlikely you’ll date a woman from that field.
Understandably, Ronda’s husband, Travis Browne, is a former MMA star himself. They tied the knot in Travis’ home state of Hawaii in August 2017, a few months after Travis popped the question in New Zealand under a waterfall. We’re jealous!
You can refer to the couple’s land as “The Browsey Farm.” They live right outside of L.A. in a sustainable ranch home full of horses, dogs, goats, cows, ducks, and chickens. Her animals are her babies, and she has a name for each one of them.
Many people questioned her transition out of the bustling streets of L.A., but she calmly explained, “A lot of my early memories were being able to run around and go into the back and pick raspberries. I always kind of wanted to be able to give my kids that off-the-grid living experience.”
In 2015, Ronda released an autobiography titled My Fight, Your Fight, in which she disclosed some disturbing details about her past relationship. She revealed that her ex-partner took nude photos of her without her consent, and when she discovered them, she slapped him across the face so hard her hand burned.
She then tried to leave the house, but he stubbornly stood in front of the door. She claimed she had no choice but to punch him in the face and throw him to the ground. Some claim her behavior wasn’t fitting and that she should have talked it out with him. But, come on, the guy snapped naked photos of her without her permission. We understand the rage…
Ronda disrespected UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre, in 2011 when she called him a boring Canadian who was “bad for the sport.” She didn’t hold anything back when she shamelessly said, “If GSP wasn’t really good-looking, and really [from Canada], he would be really unknown.”
In response, GSP shrugged it off and jokingly responded, “It’s very flattering for her to say that I’m a good-looking guy, and I want to say she’s a very beautiful woman as well. I feel very flattered.” Looks like Ronda’s trash talk didn’t have any effect on him.
Ronda knows that following a healthy, strict diet is key to performing well in the ring. She watches what she eats and, maybe even more important – when she eats. She’s a huge advocate of the “Warrior Diet,” which consists of a small eating window and a long fasting period.
Her diet has changed a lot over the years, shifting from relatively “normal” (eating from all food groups) to strictly Paleo. She once mentioned she eats only one meal a day, usually at dinner. But we’re pretty sure that’s not how she eats today.
Ronda is passionate about animals, MMA, wrestling, writing, and also cute and lovable Pokémon! She boasted about her slight obsession saying, “I’ve gotten every single version of every generation of the game.” She even moderated a Pokémon forum when she was a kid.
When asked what type of Pokémon she would want to fight in the octagon, she responded, “Throh — because he’s the Judo Pokémon and would challenge me the most.” Yeah, there’s no doubt Ronda knows her stuff when it comes to animated creatures.
If you think Pokémon is the only animated show Ronda is into, think again. The former MMA star is into Dragon Ball Z and has even attended fan events wearing a Goku hoodie. She’s also obsessed with the video game World of War Craft.
As if all that wasn’t geeky enough, remember Animorphs? That creepy children’s fantasy series? Ronda loved that as well. As a kid, she wrote an Animorphs fan-fiction story and still has a copy saved on a floppy disk.
Ronda has been forever traumatized by the delicious and semi-healthy treat, Raisinets. These chocolate coated raisins seem harmless enough, but, apparently, if you stick one up to your nose, you might find yourself in the hospital (but we knew that, right?).
I guess Ronda didn’t know that. Because she had to be rushed to the emergency room after she wasn’t able to pull the raisin out herself. But doctors reassured her everything was fine, and, after a while, Rousey’s warm breath melted the chocolate, and the raisin fell out.
Today, Ronda’s net worth stands at around $13 million. From movies to WWE to UFC matches, it’s really no surprise she’s accumulated that much. In addition to her performances in the ring, Ronda makes millions from endorsements and TV appearances.
When she was at her peak, Ronda boasted, “I think how much you get paid should have something to do with how much you bring in. I’m the highest paid fighter [in the UFC], not because Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta) wanted to do something nice for the ladies. They do it because I bring in the highest numbers.”
Professional fighters are used to injuries, so this won’t come as a surprise that Ronda has cauliflower ears, just like most of her peers. A lot of fighters get it after being punched in the sides of the face time after time.
Ronda claims she’s proud of her ears and has rightfully earned them! The deformed ear might look a bit daunting at first, but it’s not that bad once you get used to it (as long as the swelling and pain goes away!).