Former Judo Olympian looking to make mark in MMA
At the age of 24, Ronda Rousey has already had a stellar career in martial arts.
Between 2004 and 2008, she managed to achieve such accolades in the sport of Judo as the gold medal at the Pan American Games, the gold medal twice at consecutive Pan American Judo Championships, and the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
However, shortly after winning the bronze medal on the sport’s largest stage, Rousey decided it was time to move on. She tried out the “normal person” lifestyle for a while, but soon decided that she had to make a change, leaving her with two choices.
"I knew that Judo wasn't for me anymore and I was bartending and doing the normal person thing for a year,” Rousey told HeavyMMA.com’s Megan Olivi at UFC on FOX 1 this past Saturday evening. “I knew I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. So I was entertaining the idea of becoming a rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard or an MMA fighter, and since the Coast Guard was a commitment I couldn't turn back from, I decided to give MMA a try first.”
With that decision, Rousey embarked on a career in mixed martial arts, beginning with a short undefeated stint as an amateur before becoming a professional and earning a quick submission victory in her debut at King of the Cage: Turning Point earlier this year.
But even though her career in the sport only began this past March, Rousey has quickly compiled a professional record of 3-0 with all three victories coming by way of armbar submission. However, even more impressive, is the fact that she needed a total of 99 seconds to earn all three of those wins combined.
Now, Rousey looks to continue her undefeated streak in the sport against Julia Budd at Strikeforce Challengers 20 this Friday night at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. But there is more on the line than just the outcome of the fight, as Rousey is looking to become one of the more recognized fighters in women’s MMA alongside Gina Carano, who Rousey believes paved the way for her, showing that you can be an attractive female and a fighter at the same time.
"I feel women's MMA needs a lot more people that can be recognized, and I feel like I'm probably the most capable of filling that role," Rousey said. "I know what it's like to represent myself very well under a lot of pressure and I don't feel that nervous about it. I feel like I'm ready."
"Gina Carano kind of did that for me. I never would have thought MMA would offer a real career for me if it wasn't for her becoming so successful. And other girls like Miesha Tate … I can also help out. You don't have to be ugly to be a feminist, and I really want to push that women can be strong and they can be for having equal rights, and they can be sexy at the same time. You don't have to choose one or the other."
Now that she is dedicated to the sport of MMA and looking to quickly become one of the most recognizable faces in the sport, Rousey has turned her gaze towards the championship gold at the top of the divisions. Currently fighting at the 145 pounds mark, she believes that one day she will earn the belt.
But following her bout with Budd this coming Friday, Rousey believes that she will make the move down to the 135 pounds mark to earn that title before vying for the 145-pound championship. After all, that is simply part of her plan to unify the two divisions and better the chances for women’s MMA to become a part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“I don't think I'd have to do a catchweight fight (against 135-pound champion Tate). I've been walking around five pounds over 145 for the past couple of weeks, eating whatever I want. So after this fight, I'm thinking of winning the 135-pound belt first and then going up and taking the 145-pound belt, and then, if we have the two divisions unified, we can probably push everyone into one division and we can have the depth that Dana says we don't have. We could push for having women's MMA in the UFC.”