Women professional athletes can be some of the most inspirational people out there. This is especially true once they transcend the pack and become national phenoms. Strong ladies like Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey are a perfect example of this. That stardom doesn'tcome easy, however. Rousey has seen the highs and lows of her star power she gained by dominating in the UFC ring. It didn't happen overnight for Rousey, as it seldom does for anyone. She had to start somewhere and is still working through to her finish. Make sure your mouth guard is in, here's the life of Rousey.
A Champion In The Making
Sometimes, it's already written in the stars. Rousey was born on February 1, 1987, to Ron and Ann Maria De Mars Rousey. Her mother Ann Marie was a fantastic judo player and became the first American winner of the world championships.
As for Rousey, her birth came with a huge complication. She was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. This caused a near-death experience because it was cutting off oxygen flow. Fortunately, she survived. And after working with a speech therapist, she was able to fully recover.
A Horrible Accident
On top of almost dying after birth, just eight years later Rousey would experience another tragic event. During a family outing in the snow, Rousey's father had a sledding accident which led to him breaking his back. The accident led to doctors discovering a disorder with his blood, preventing him from healing correctly.
Ron was now paralyzed from the waist down and only had a few years left to live. When Rousey was eight, Ron ended up stopping his own misery and took his life.
A New Fight
When Rousey hit the age of 11, her mother began teaching her all that she knew about judo. Two years into training, Rousey accidentally broke her mom's wrist! She was soon on the same skill level as professional men, and at 15-years-old she joined the U.S. Olympic team.
It didn't take Rousey too long to achieve greatness. Only one year after joining the Olympic team, she became ranked number one for the women's half-middleweight section. She was the youngest American to do so.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
Due to some complications, Rousey was not eligible to compete for a medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. That didn't crush her fighting spirit. Rousey went to fight in Hungary at the World Championships determined to leave with a medal.
After beating the field with general ease, Rousey ended up taking home the Gold for America! If this is your first time learning about Rousey, be prepared for a lot more winning. Winning runs through her blood.
Olympic Triumph For Rousey
Due to her inability to compete for a medal in the prior Olympics, Rousey came into the 2008 Olympics revved and ready to win. Shockingly, Rousey lost in the quarterfinals in what was an extremely close match. Because the results were so narrow from her losing fight, she was granted another chance to qualify for the medal rounds.
She seized this opportunity, beat her opponent, and ended up winning a bronze medal. The victory made her the first American woman to medal in judo since it became an Olympic Sport.
Trying To Lead A Normal Life
After young Rousey dominated the judo world and won all types of medals, she attempted to live a regular life. By regular we mean retiring at 21, finding a roommate, and moving into an apartment in California.
Yes, fighting at the Olympic level requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but this path seemed harder for the young Rousey. She had to work three jobs to be able to afford to live for herself and her dog. The bartender life wasn't what Rousey wanted to do.
Taking Her Talents To The MMA
During her early training days for judo, Rousey had training partners who went on to become professional MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters. Years later, her teammates said Rousey would do well against any other woman in MMA.
They also felt her face was too pretty to be getting punched in the face. The time came for Rousey to make a decision. She knew that a regular life of ordinary jobs wasn't in the stars for her. That's when she decided to pursue MMA.
She's A Natural
In August of 2010, a new legend was born. Rousey had her first professional MMA fight and boy, was it a good one. It wasn't very long, but those who were keen on Rousey had the pleasure of witnessing greatness in the making.
Rousey put her opponent in an armbar which is when their arm is completely stretched out and "locked" in place by the fighter using their whole body (take a look at the image.) Her first fight lasted just 23 seconds.
Crushing The Competition
Rousey's first fight was no fluke ladies and gentlemen. Rousey would go on and destroy anyone and everyone who stepped into the ring against her. She was beating veterans in under a minute and crushed another person in only 24 seconds.
Of course, that was at the amateur level, so she chose to go pro. No difference at all. Rousey strung off four consecutive victories in under a minute. Her toughest challenge came when she had to fight the reigning champ. That bout lasted for 4 minutes and 27 seconds, but she came out on top.
Ronda Is Comfortable In Her Skin
With Rousey's clout climbing higher and higher since becoming a professional, ESPN had to capitalize. The sports network decided to make Rousey the cover of their polarizing "Body Issue," and Rousey didn't mind being scantily clad.
She thinks of it as art. "Women don't have to trade their femininity for athleticism," Rousey profoundly said. "I can be a fighter and be tough yet still retain my femininity." All of this is true because she was tough before the shoot and remained tough after.
Holm Delivers The Knockout
Throughout her professional fighting days, Rousey accumulated an outstanding record. She handily defeated six opponents, with two of those victories coming within 20 seconds or less. Rousey had fighters thinking they could win only to find out they couldn't even last a minute with her.
Then that all changed when Holly Holm stepped up to the challenge. Holm had a different type of confidence to her, but that didn't change the fact that everyone thought she was going to lose. Holm defeated Rousey convincingly in 2015 and sent shock waves through the UFC world.
Another Fight, Another Loss
Rousey knew that defeat was embarrassing, so she needed to be sure she was ready for her next fight. She took a year off competing and dedicated it to training. In December 2016, Rousey matched up against Amanda Nunes for her return to the ring.
Nunes was the current champion, so Rousey was looking to upset that. Shockingly, Nunes pulled a Rousey and retained her title in only 48 seconds! Fans couldn't believe it as Rousey had lost again in a demeaning manner.
Lights, Camera, Acting!
Since the rest of the UFC women started catching up to Rousey and beating her at her own game, Rousey figured it was time to change paths. The world of acting was up next for the super fighter. She's even had starring roles since 2014, including The Expendables 3.
She's landed in more notable films while playing a supporting role such as her appearance in the mega movie franchise Fast and the Furious. In Furious 7, she fought Michelle Rodriguez in an intense scene.
A Relationship Of Controversy
Not all relationships are fairy tales and happy endings. In 2015, Rousey released an autobiography My Fight, Your Fight and she spilled all the secrets. One of the stories discussed how she beat on her ex-boyfriend. It would appear that she and her current man (Travis Browne) were perfect for each other because he too was accused of domestic violence.
Browne is also a UFC fighter, and he was accused by his estranged wife. He told Rousey he would understand if she broke up with him but she stuck by his side. “It’s hard, it’s really hard. I’m very anti-domestic violence,” she told ESPN. “But I know that he didn’t do anything."
Ronda To WWE?
Rousey wasn't fighting anyone after her 2016 loss to Amanda Nunes. She was exploring all of her options and acting was for sure something she would continue to do, but another opportunity was on the horizon.
Rousey loved wrestling. Rumors began to spread that she would star in WWE but nothing was signed, so the talks were just that. Then she was spotted with Triple H, who happens to be someone of high influence in the WWE world.
The Happy Couple
Browne and Rousey are both fighters, so that's a great thing to have in common. They officially announced they were dating in 2015 and it took two years before they ended up engaged. Towne popped the question under a waterfall in New Zealand while the two were on vacation.
The engagement occurred at the top of 2017 and then in August, they were married in Hawaii. Towne posted a picture of the couple with the caption, “What an amazing day!! She is so perfect in every way! She makes me so happy! She is my other half! I Love You @rondarousey #browsey2017”
Debut In WWE
Rousey signed her contract to become a WWE superstar in February 2018. Two months later, she made her debut at WrestleMania 34 in the famous Superdome. It was packed and noisy. Rousey won her tag match with Kurt Angle as they took down Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
Rousey was expecting a rowdier crowd for her debut, but that wasn't the case. "I underestimated how kind the WWE universe would be," Rousey said in an interview with ESPN. "I thought any outsiders would be shunned. I'm just so grateful, man."
More Acting For Rousey
Ever since she stepped away from the UFC, one might have thought she wouldn't have remained as successful. That couldn't be further from the truth. Rousey graced the silver screen regularly but decided to try her hand on TV too.
Rousey landed a guest spot on NBC's drama Blindspot as she played a prison inmate. She said it was "awesome" and "hoped to go back." She just might get to make that happen, as rumors are spreading that she could become a regular. We know what happened with her last rumor.
Speaking On Being Bullied
As you can imagine, being an athletic and strong little girl can set you up as a topic of discussion on the playground, and not in the right way. Rousey discussed how she was picked on due to her choice of sport (judo) and because she was too masculine.
For a teenager, that's a lot to overcome mentally. After her loss to Holm, she admitted she thought about suicide so you can only imagine how Rousey felt as a young girl hearing these hateful comments about what she likes.
Enter Mile 22
In August 2018, Rousey starred in the film Mile 22. In this film, Rousey had the chance to show she doesn't have to rely on her fighting background. Her past films showcased her fighting for the most part, so this was a nice change of pace for Rousey.
“I just love that (director) Pete Berg had so much confidence in me that he didn’t want me leaning on my fight background. He wanted me to show people that I have more to offer than just that,” says Rousey.
Ronda Got With Travis Before He Was Actually Divorced
Ronda Rousey made quite the stir when she appeared on an episode of SNL while wearing her engagement ring. While some were overjoyed to see Rousey sporting her new bling, looking happy as ever, not everyone felt the same way. Following the episode, Travis Browne’s estranged wife, Jenna Renee Webb, took to social media and called out Rousey for being with a married man.
Along with an image of Rousey’s ring, Webb included the caption, ‘Is Ronda Rousey wearing a promise ring? As in ''I promise not to hit you like my current wife'' ring?”’ Webb’s post made the round on social media and reminded everyone she and Browne were still married — on top of calling into question whether or not her abuse claims were true.
Travis's Estranged Wife Accused Him of Abuse
Jenna Renee Webb’s social media posts following Ronda Rousey’s SNL appearance reminded everyone that she was still married to Travis Browne. But it also reminded everyone of Browne’s checkered past.
Amidst the drama, Webb took to social media and shared that she left Browne after he assaulted her. She also captioned one of her photos, “'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.” Travis denies he was ever abusive and a UFC commissioned third-party investigation cleared him.
She and Her Husband Live a Quiet Life On a Farm
Rousey’s fierce attitude in the ring might lead you to believe she lives an energy-packed life — but the athlete’s life is surprisingly quiet. In fact, Rousey and her husband, Travis Browne, live on their very own farm on the farm on a sprawling property in Venice, California.
The duo grows a variety of fruits and vegetables and keeps busy tending to their chickens, ducks, and five goats. Rousey says her ideal Sunday involves cooking breakfast with their farm fresh eggs before cleaning the kiddie pond for the couple’s ducks.
She's An Animal Lover
Ronda Rousey is tough as nails but she’s definitely got a soft side. The athlete loves animals and even worked as a canine physical therapy assistant before her UFC career took off. Now that she lives on a farm with her husband, Ronda has been able to let her love of animals shine even more.
One of her favorite things to do these days is bottle-feeding her baby goat, Rio. “I bottle-feed Rio and he does that goat thing where he shakes his little tail, goes cross-eyed and leans into me with that frothy milk mouth while he’s drinking,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s the best thing in the world.”
Ronda Talks About Suicide With Ellen
In February 2016, Rousey experienced the toughest loss of her career, and it took a toll on her mentally. She candidly expressed her sorrows and frustrations after the loss on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in a raw interview. Rousey said if she didn’t have Browne by her side, she’s not sure if she would still be here.
“In the medical room, I was down in the corner, I was sitting in the corner and I was like ‘what am I anymore if I’m not this?' And I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself in that exact second, I’m nothing. Like what do I do anymore? And no one gives an [expletive] about me anymore without this.” DeGeneres was visibly surprised by her response, and people reached out with messages of support to Rousey afterward.
She Was Depressed For Two Years
Depression took a tough toll on the female fighter for two years, she says. Rousey recalls that her mom never taught her how to deal with loss and disappointment, and those feelings became overwhelming to her in her late 20’s. With Browne by her side, she eventually pulled through.
“My mom didn't teach me how to deal with that stuff [losing] … [so] I did a whole lot of crying, isolating myself.” she told the Los Angeles Times. “He held me and let me cry, and it lasted two years. I couldn't have done it alone.”
She's Not a "Do Nothing"
Rousey doesn’t hold back or bite her tongue when it comes to her opinion, and she’s proven that time and time again. In July 2015, Ronda Rousey appeared on an episode of “UFC 190 Embedded.” The documentary-style series follows UFC athletes to get a behind-the-scenes look into their lives.
When Rousey appeared on the series she talked about what she calls a “Do Nothing [expletive]” something she never wants to become. "I have this one term for the kind of woman that my mother raised me to not be,” she said. “I call it a ‘do-nothing [expletive]’ Or, I call it a ‘DNB’ a lot of the time."
ESPN's Body Issue Caused Some Problems for Ronda
In 2012 fans were excited to hear that Ronda Rousey would be appearing in ESPN’s Body Issue. Although she was extremely nervous, Rousey bared it all and posed for the magazine in the buff. She was careful with who she worked with on set, and was concerned about nude photos being leaked. Then, her worst nightmare happened.
While shooting the stills, other cameramen filmed the photoshoot for ESPN’s YouTube channel. As soon as the video went live, Rousey viewed it for the first time. Very quickly, people began to comment that there was a moment in the video when you could see Rousey completely nude. She broke down crying and told ESPN to pull the video immediately, which it was.
She's Won Three ESPY Awards
The Body Issue snafu didn’t cause Rousey to cut ties with ESPN, however. Rousey attends the ESPY Awards dressed to the nines. In 2015 she won an ESPY for Best Fighter, as well as Best Female Athlete in 2014 and 2015.
ESPY Awards are a great accomplishment for any athlete, and for the category of Best Fighter, Rousey was up against the men as well. In fact, Rousey was the only woman nominated in the category, and beat out the four male nominees to take home the award.
Ronda Slammed Floyd Mayweather On the Red Carpet
When Rousey attended the ESPY Awards in 2015 and won Best Fighter, she couldn’t help but mention one of the other fighters who was nominated for the award that year: Floyd Mayweather. In 2014, Mayweather claimed that he hadn’t heard of Ronda Rousey, and didn’t know who she was.
On the red carpet Rousey later said, “I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once,” seemingly taking a jab at the fact that Mayweather had been charged with domestic violence multiple times. “I’d like to see you pretend to not know who I am now.”
Ronda and Travis's Home Was Robbed
You would think that burglars would avoid robbing the home of one of the most famous MMA fighters in the world, but that wasn’t the case in early 2017. While appearing on an episode of “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” Ronda Rousey detailed that she was robbed a few months back.
The criminals, who were reportedly squatting in her house for days, stole her Olympic ring, guns, precious jewelry, and all of her credit cards. Fortunately, she and her husband were quick to check the security system at their home and recognized the burglars from a local skatepark. The duo turned the footage over to the police who quickly apprehended the criminals.
Her Sponsors Are In Her Corner
Rousey was the #1 female fighter in her UFC weight class at the end of 2016, and companies came knocking at her door offering sponsorships. Rousey signed deals with Reebok, Carl’s Jr., Metro PCS and Buffalo Jeans. However, when she suffered two major career losses, people began wondering if her sponsors would stick by her side.
TMZ Sports questioned Reebok as to whether or not they would pull their deal. They replied, "Reebok stands with Ronda 100%. Our partnership is about far more than wins or losses. Reebok remains firmly in Ronda’s corner."
She's The First Female To Be Inducted Into the UFC Hall of Fame
When Ronda Rousey stepped onto the scene, her popularity shot through the roof. In 2015, she was the third most searched person on Google in the entire world. People were excited to see what Rousey could do, and her persona brought increased exposure to women’s fighting.
In addition to being named Best Fighter at the ESPY’s, beating out her male counterparts for the award, Rousey continued to break down the door for the women. On July 5, 2018, Rousey became the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
UFC Was Hesitant, But Picked Up Women's MMA
At first, UFC President Dana White wasn’t interested in adding women’s fighting to the UFC. "There is not enough depth to create a women's division,” he said in 2011. But when he saw what Rousey was capable of, he changed his mind. Rousey became the first female fighter to be signed to the UFC in 2013.
White said, “In my defense, when I famously said women would never fight in the UFC, I had never met Ronda Rousey. I had never met the woman who would change everything. She started by changing my mind and she ended up changing the world."
Rousey Has a Mean Armbar
During her professional MMA career, Rousey has won twelve matches out of fourteen. Of the twelve, nine were won by submission, meaning Rousey overpowered her competitor until they tapped out. One of Rousey’s deadliest moves is the armbar. Getting caught in this move is extremely painful, and can seriously damage a person’s arm.
Before she went pro, Rousey beat Hayden Munoz by locking her into an armbar in just 23 seconds. Then again on January 7, 2011, Rousey won by technical submission against Taylor Stratford when she locked her into an armbar. That fight lasted a mere 24 seconds. When she went pro it wasn’t a surprise when she defeated Miesha Tate with an armbar in the first round, dislocating her elbow.
Ronda's Nickname Comes From the Late Wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Ronda is known as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. But before Ronda stepped into the ring, another wrestler held the nickname. Rowdy Roddy Piper was a celebrated WWE wrestler who stacked numerous championships during his career. Ronda was a longtime admirer of Piper and asked him if she could use his nickname.
The two became friends and Piper gave Ronda his blessing to use the nickname for her own. Sadly, Piper passed away in July 2015 from a heart attack.
She Was the First Women to Appear on the Cover of Men's Fitness
Ronda Rousey made history again when she appeared on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. The first woman to ever do so, Rousey appeared in her Reebok sports gear for the October 2015 issue. The cover of the magazine read, ‘Think You’re Tough?’
While the groundbreaking cover proved how Rousey has become an inspiring figure in sports to both men and women, not everyone was happy with the issue. Lots of readers took to social media to voice their opinions — good and bad — about the magazine’s choice to feature awoman. Ultimately, the magazine was praised for celebrating a woman for her professional accomplishments, rather than for how she looks physically.
Feminist, Or Anti-Feminist?
Many people following her career have dubbed Rousey as a feminist. After all, she’s the reason women were welcomed to compete in the UFC, she was the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and she was the first women’s championship title winner. However, Rousey isn’t quick to call herself a feminist.
“There are so many ridiculous arguments that MMA is somehow anti-woman,” she said. “Fighting is not a man's thing, it is a human thing. To say that it is anti-woman is an anti-feminist statement.” Interviewers have asked Rousey if she thinks it’s fair that some of the men are making more than her in the sport. She tells them it’s only fair for someone who has more fights under their belt to make more.
Tina Fey Praised Rousey for Her Impact
In 2016, Tina Fey penned an editorial piece for TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, and focused on Rousey’s impact. “Could Ronda be the one to finally help us understand that as females, we define the word feminine and that it doesn’t define us?" Fey wrote.
Fey confessed her admiration for Rousey being empowered by her bodily strength and aiming to inspire young girls and women alike that they should be proud, not ashamed of their physical strength. Another major theme Rousey often brings up is that women should be the ones to define what femininity means to them, instead of looking to the media, and to men.
She's Not Cocky, She's Confident
Critics love to question Rousey’s confidence and ask her to explain her opinions and previous comments. While professional male athletes are rarely given a second look when they talk up their strength and power, Rousey constantly felt negativity and judgment when she did the same.
“Some people like to call me cocky…” she said, “but I just think, ‘How dare you assume I should think less of myself?’” However she doesn’t act like she’s invincible, either. In her book, Rousey said, “I am vulnerable; that's why I fight.”