Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey is known for blazing the trail for female UFC fighters. She’s an astounding athlete – lightning fast in the ring, with an armbar that is widely feared. But her fierce fighting skills aside, Rousey is a badass for many other reasons. Indeed, she’s won Olympic medals, modeled swimsuits, put Floyd Mayweather in his place and overcome tremendous personal obstacles, all while showing herself to possess a kind, generous and open spirit. Here, we highlight some of her most impressive moments outside the ring.
20. The time she openly talked about having suicidal thoughts
Rousey’s loss to Holly Holms shocked the sports world. And it affected Rousey herself, too, on a deeply emotional level. In an interview on Ellen, in fact, she discussed how immediately after her devastating defeat she had thoughts of killing herself. But once she spotted her boyfriend, Travis Browne, she fortunately pulled herself together. It was an incredibly brave thing for an athlete to share, and it made us love her all the more.
19. She went from living in her car to being worth $12 million
After only placing bronze at the Beijing Olympics, Rousey became depressed and quit fighting for a bit. She worked at a fitness center to pay the bills and, for a brief period, even lived out of her Honda. Now, though, she’s revered as one of the best female UFC fighters in the world and was named in an ESPN poll as “The Best Female Athlete Ever.”
18. She is gracious to her fans
Rousey grew up in Venice, California. And when a local artist painted a mural of her on the side of a building there, Rousey tweeted her delight, saying, “Thank you @never1959 for the beautiful Venice mural!!! Growing up in Venice gives you a real appreciation for street art, and this is the biggest possible compliment from one local to another #Iheartstreetart.”
17. She totally called out Floyd Mayweather
When someone suggested to boxer Floyd Mayweather that Rousey could beat him in a fight, Mayweather claimed to not know who Rousey was, despite the fact that she was bantamweight champion at the time. But when Rousey later beat Mayweather to the ESPY “Best Fighter” award, she had the perfect riposte, saying, “I’d like to see you pretend to not know who I am now.”
16. She’s a Sports Illustrated model
Rousey has shown that a woman can be a fierce, fighting machine and still look smoking hot in a swimsuit, most notably through her appearance in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Sporting a body-paint one-piece during the shoot, Rousey presented a strong, body-positive image of the athletic female form.
15. She holds the UFC record for fastest submission
Rousey is crazy fast in the ring. She once got an opponent to tap out after a mere 14 seconds! And she holds the record for getting the fastest submission in UFC championship history, which just goes to show how great she is as a fighter.
14. She couldn’t speak coherently until she was seven
As Rousey was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, it was feared that she would never fully recover and speak coherently. It wasn’t until the age of seven, though, that her speech improved and normalized. And she proved as a consequence that she’s been a fighter from a very young age.
13. She has her own special diet
Many may wonder what a powerhouse like Rousey eats. Well, it turns out that her diet is one of her very own creation – a mix of what she calls “Paleo and warrior.” She’s like a bird during the day, snacking on nuts and berries. At night, however, she allows herself one large meal.
12. She paved the way for female UFC fighters
There is no denying that Rousey is a total trailblazer as the very first woman to sign with the UFC. Not only that, but she was also given the inaugural bantamweight championship to boot. She is truly an ass-kicking pioneer.
11. She went to a Marine Corps Ball with a fan
In an incredibly sweet move, Rousey blew a fan away when she showed up for his Marine Corps Ball. It was Lance Cpl. Jarrod Haschert who invited her to be his date for the annual ball in 2015, all the while never expecting that she’d actually do it. Rousey, though, not only showed up but also thanked him for cheering her up after her recent UFC loss.
10. She has a campaign against being a D.N.B.
Ronda is all about female empowerment. She has no time for D.N.B.s – “do nothing bitches” who focus all of their energy on looking pretty and finding a man to pay the bills. And to get this message out she created a line of clothing against D.N.B.s, with all proceeds going to mental health services for women struggling with body issues.
9. She is gracious and wise even in defeat
The world was shocked when Rousey was defeated by Amanda Nunes in December 2016. And while it was undoubtedly a crushing blow for the American fighter, she nevertheless handled it with class, saying in a statement the following month, “I take pride in seeing how far the women’s division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda.”
8. She arm-barred Jimmy Fallon
During a hilarious Tonight Show interview, funnyman Jimmy Fallon learned the hard way why Rousey’s armbar is considered her fiercest move. Indeed, after the fighter quickly pulled the move on the comedian, he was shouting his safe word “Rumplestiltskin” in a matter of seconds.
7. She’s an Olympic medalist
In 2008 Rousey achieved another first: she became the first American woman to nab an Olympic medal in judo. She pulled off this impressive feat at the Beijing Summer Games.
6. She used to work with injured dogs
Perhaps the last thing one thinks of when they hear “badass” is someone cuddling injured pups. But that’s exactly what Rousey used to do before she made it big, as one of her earliest jobs was as a canine physical therapy assistant. Aww.
5. She rocked as an SNL host
If her January 2016 stint as a Saturday Night Live host is anything to go by, it seems that Rousey has a wit as quick as her fierce fists. And in a very cool move, she also took the opportunity to congratulate Holly Holm on live TV. Holm had recently defeated her at the UFC championship.
4. She used to be a vegan
At one point in her life, Rousey followed a strict, no dairy and no meat vegan diet. However, she’s since admitted that her eating habits weren’t the best during that period. “Unfortunately, I was working two to three bartending jobs at once during that time and didn’t have many options in the vegan genre besides Jameson whiskey and sweet potato fries,” she divulged to MMA Playground. Rousey eventually gave the diet up after she contracted bronchitis.
3. She thinks photoshopping is stupid
Rousey has made it part of her mission to speak out about the importance of a positive body image, and so she was none too pleased when she realized that photos of her had been altered to make her look less muscular. During an appearance on the Tonight Show, moreover, she expressed her disappointment at how the images had been manipulated, saying, “I am extremely proud of every inch of my body.”
2. She’s not afraid to show off her nerdy side
Rousey is a sci-fi nerd and proud of it. And to prove it, she let her geek flag fly high on Star Wars Day 2015, sharing a photo of herself wielding a light saber.
1. She was the first woman on the cover of a men’s magazine
In 2015 Rousey broke yet another boundary when she became the first woman to ever grace the cover of Australian Men’s Fitness magazine. Somewhat inevitably, though, some of its readership vehemently disagreed with the decision – but we bet that not one of these “slighted” men could ever beat Rousey in a fight.