Ronda Rousey Opens Up About The Tragedy That Changed Her Path To Success
In the UFC community, Ronda Rousey is an icon. Like many athletes who are under the public’s watchful eye, the fighter has been relatively silent about the obstacles she’s overcome. Now, Rousey is finally speaking out about those recent personal tragedies.
Rough and Tumble Beginnings
Ronda Rousey was born in Riverside, California, in 1987. Named after her father, she was a fighter from the very beginning. She was the youngest of three daughters born to AnnMaria De Mars and Ron Rousey. While she was still in elementary school, the family left their California home and moved to rural North Dakota.
The Sledding Accident That Changed Everything
Ronda's father had retired when the family moved from California to North Dakota, and he took Ronda on a sledding adventure to make the most of the winter weather. He hit a snow-covered log while sledding and crashed, landing headfirst on the ground. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with spinal injuries.
A Devastated Family
After partially recovering and learning of his long-term medical prognosis, Ron Rousey made a decision that would forever have an impact on his daughter. Ronda and her sister were watching cartoons when their father entered the room, gave them both a hug and left, never to return.
A Judo Prodigy (and More)
Ronda's mother AnnMaria was a judo prodigy as a child and teen. She won numerous international tournaments in the sport. In college, AnnMaria continued to succeed, but it was in the classroom. She then surprisingly came out of retirement in 1984 to win the World Judo Championships.
An Early Brush with Death
AnnMaria's grittiness gleaned from years of judo and schooling gave her the skills necessary to handle the tragedies her family had to endure. The list of tragedies almost included Ronda dying during her birth.
Leaving North Dakota
Ronda's family moved to North Dakota so she could be near a team of talented speech therapists. She was eventually diagnosed with a condition called apraxia, which affects the motor programming system for speech. It’s a relatively unknown condition.
The Beginning of a Journey
Ronda has said that having a judo world champion as a mother made it easier for her to excel at the sport. She even told the media that her mother jumping on her bed and attacking her with armbars helped develop her skills.
The Athens Olympics
Ronda wanted to be a judo world champion just like her mother, and she didn’t intend to stop at anything to reach her goal. She became one of the country's top judo talents after settling into her life in Massachusetts. Ronda's journey to greatness had begun.
Disappointment in Greece
Ronda was the youngest judo participant to ever compete in the Olympics. Still a teenager, she was forced to overcome further obstacles as a result of her performance in the Olympics. She was overmatched by her more experienced opponents and finished in ninth place.
American Judoka Legend
As Ronda prepared for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she excelled in the international judo circuit. She became the first female in almost 10 years to win an A-level tournament in judo when she took the gold medal at the Birmingham World Cup in Great Britain.
Winning the Bronze Medal
When she arrived in Beijing for the 2004 Olympics, Ronda was determined not to forget her disappointing experience four years earlier in Greece. Her goal was to win a medal, something no other US female judoka had done since judo became an Olympic sport in 1992. She ended up winning five of her matches while competing in the 70 kg division.
From Success to Financial Strain
After winning the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, Ronda returned home to California and retired from judo. She assumed Olympic success would improve her financial situation, but it didn't. She left her mother's home in California to figure things out with no money and no plan.
Living in Her Car
During this time in her life, money was extremely tight for Ronda. Her diet often consisted of ramen noodles served cold because the hot water had been shut off in her apartment. Both cigarettes and marijuana became a regular part of her routine. For a time, she even lived in her car.
MMA to the Rescue
While she worked at 24 Hour Fitness, Ronda began training in mixed martial arts. Fighting had always been in her DNA, and she soon developed an obsession with the sport. With her background in judo, the transition to MMA came easy, but she still had a lot of training to do in those early days.
Journey to the Top of Women's MMA
Ronda defeated her first MMA opponent, Hayden Munoz, in 23 seconds using an armbar. The move became synonymous with Ronda, as she also used it to defeat her next two opponents. With an undefeated 3-0 record as an amateur, she faced a dilemma.
Queen of Combat
Ronda Rousey went pro in 2011 and signed with King of the Cage. It was a big break for her. King of the Cage wasn't a well-known promotion at the time, but it was a starting point. Ronda only needed 25 seconds to subdue her opponent via armbar in her professional debut.
Becoming a UFC Champion
Ronda’s fame grew along with her success inside the cage. She began to get booked on TV shows like Conan and made appearances on ESPN. Eventually, rumors began to spread that the UFC was considering signing Ronda as its first-ever female fighter.
In the Global Spotlight
Ronda wasted no time becoming the sport's biggest star. Her UFC career began with six straight title defenses, and she often defeated her opponents early in the fight. Of her six title defenses, she only spent 1,077 seconds in the cage. That's approximately $1,002 for every second she fought.
Loss to Holly Holm
No athlete remains on top forever, and Ronda was no exception. The only questions were when it would happen and how far the downfall would be. She was slated to defend her title for the seventh time in 2015, and her opponent was Holly Holm.
Ronda Rousey Tastes Defeat
The fight with Holly Holm never went to ground level, so Ronda never got a chance to use her strongest tactics. Instead, she took a steady barrage of strikes to the face. Holm finally connected with a kick to Ronda’s face and neck that sent her to the canvas. As a result, she defeated Ronda in a shocking upset.
Facing Amanda Nunes
Ronda took nearly a year off before announcing her comeback fight against Amanda Nunes. In the build-up to the fight, she was criticized for taking time away from the spotlight after the loss to Holm. Some felt that if she was willing to put herself out there to attract more attention, then she should still be willing to do so even after suffering a loss.
Second Straight Loss
Ronda faced then-champion Amanda Nunes on December 30, 2016, and the fight only lasted 48 seconds. Nunes unleashed a torrent of punches and never let up. The referee was forced to call the fight. After her second straight loss, Ronda disappeared again into the shadows and silence.
Becoming a WWE Star
Ronda told Ellen DeGeneres that she had suicidal thoughts following her loss to Holly Holm. She also had to deal with rumors regarding the man she was dating, fellow UFC fighter Travis Brown, as he was under investigation for allegations of domestic abuse.
Making Movies, Making Money
Ronda quickly rose to the top of WWE and became one of the most popular entertainers in the entire industry. She had found a new passion, but she isn’t someone who can limit herself to just one thing. What does that mean? Ronda decided to put her acting skills to the test.
Publishing Her First Book
Ronda sought to achieve success in yet another field when she released her book, My Fight/Your Fight, in 2015. Always a fighter in everything she does, she perfectly encapsulates the saying "It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up."
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition
Without her struggles, Ronda Rousey never would have become the greatest female fighter in MMA history. She again made history in 2015 when she became the first female athlete to co-host SportsCenter. Still not enough? The next year, she appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
Time to Start a Family
Ronda was forced to attack her ex to recover the explicit photos. She obtained a hard drive and phone where they were stored and deleted them. She wanted to take the power back from that experience, however, which is what led her to pose for the magazine.
A Bright Path Ahead
Ronda Rousey has a net worth of $12 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, and that number should continue to grow. Although she is no longer a UFC fighter, she isn’t running short on ways to bring in money, whether it’s from endorsement deals or her career as an actress.
A Total Diva
After losing the WWE RAW Women's Championship at WrestleMania 35, Ronda Rousey took a hiatus from competing inside a WWE ring. She has remained involved with the organization, however, and was announced as the newest cast member of WWE's reality TV program, Total Divas, for its ninth season.
Ronda Rousey on 9-1-1
In 2019, Ronda Rousey landed a role in the Fox drama 9-1-1. She plays Lena Bosko, a firefighter with the Los Angeles Fire Department who first appears in season three. She has learned during the filming of the show that acting carries its share of physical risk as well.