It’s one thing to be the UFC Bantamweight Champion and have the mindset to be prepared for any and all opponents that you may face, but it’s another to transcend a sport and take it to a height that its never been. Ronda Rousey is a gifted athlete who not only competed for the USA in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, but was also the first American women ever to medal in the Olympics in the sport of Judo.
Ronda Rousey is the type of person that when she puts her mind to become the best at something, she doesn’t allow anything to distract her or step in her way. After dedicating most of her adolescent life to Judo, Ronda changed courses and and began her amateur MMA career with her first fight taking place in 2010. The choice to gravitate towards MMA wasn’t for the pursuit of fame, money, staring movie roles, or magazine covers. This pursuit was about becoming the best fighter at an entirely different sport and taking WMMA to a new level because of her passion and determination to what she was told couldn’t be done; “Being the first woman in the UFC!”
There is no one single thing or a recipe to follow to bring WMMA to the UFC, mostly because the recipe hadn’t been written yet. This is why women such as Gina Carano, Julie Kedzie, and Marloes Coenen deserve the utmost respect as pioneers of WMMA and for everything they have done as they created new opportunities for future female fighters. Every woman that fights in the amateur or professional ranks has been inspired in one way or another by these women.
Now, each and every woman that has signed or fought in the UFC has become part of the movement to take WMMA higher and higher. They are all apart of something special and their contributions are helping bring even more women into the UFC. Ronda has conveyed her respect on many occasions for the pioneers of WMMA and in turn so have people like Gina Carano with regards to Ronda being the new face of WMMA.
In August when Ronda learned that a fight between her sparring partner Diana Prazak and Swedish boxer Frida Wallberg ended with Frida being hospitalize and in coma, Ronda decided that she wanted to help and make a difference. Ronda donated several of her personal apparel items for an auction to help raise funds for Frida’s medical bills, although she had never even met Frida before. Why would Ronda hold an auction for a Swedish boxer that she had never even met you might ask? Because real leaders go out of their way to help other people and to do what is right, not only what is expected of them. She genuinely believes in giving back to the community and helping those achieve their dreams much like she has.
“It’s not your purpose in life to be happy, it’s your purpose in life to leave the world better than how you found it. I’m trying to do that.”
Ronda has a very distinct personality where she will say exactly whats on her mind, which sets her apart from those that say and do what the mainstream media is expecting of them. She advocates for a healthy lifestyle to better ones self-esteem rather then the artificial cosmetic reasons society has grown a custom to. Watch as Phoenix Carnevale asked Ronda about some of these things in the video below.
“And that’s one of the reasons for this shoot. I specifically got heavy for it. I was 143 for the ESPN Body shoot and I was 151 for the Maxim shoot and I did it on purpose. Because when I was 14, my idea of – the standard that I held to look like was what I perceived the guys my age to want. And I saw all of them reading Maxim and I never looked like any of those girls.”
Being one of the biggest names in Mixed Martial Arts also carries great responsibility. Ronda left home for the filming of The Ultimate Fighter 18 in May and filmed the show until leading right into the UFC Fan Expo on July 6-7 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. From there Ronda went on a UFC World Media tour promoting the next four major UFC Fight events taking us up to the final event of the year UFC 168 where she is fighting Miesha Tate as the co-main event of Silva Vs. Wiedman 2. Not to mention all of the talk shows, interviews and photo sets that came during that time as well. All of these are a result of her hard work and personal success, but fulfilling these opportunities gives her a chance to be heard and connect with those who see her as a role model for WMMA.
“Research indicates MMA’s worldwide fan base is bigger than MLB’s, and that Ronda Rousey is a “breakthrough” celebrity.”
When all is said and done, none of this growth would be possible without the fans. The fans are the ones that engage daily in social media debates, purchase the event tickets, and buy the merchandise. They are the ones that help create awareness through interactions, the ones that are the driving force behind the meteoric rise of MMA & WMMA. Unlike any other sport, MMA has the closest relationship between the athletes and their fans. It is great to see just how many MMA fans support their fighter as if they were going into battle with them. This is probably why most people who are invested in MMA, speak so passionately about it. They feel they are a part of something big, something special. WMMA is more than just a sport, it is a movement. Which is why we have to give credit where credit is due, to the pioneers of WMMA. Without their sacrifices and contributions, none of this would be possible.