A few weeks ago, undefeated UFC bantamweight champ “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (and her friend and side kick, Marina Shafir) sat down with ESPN’s Allison Glock for an interview. Here are some of the choice highlights from that conversation.
On how bartending prepared her for press obligations:
As a bartender, I am having pretty much the identical conversation over and over all day, but I still have to be present and genuine with every single response and try to get the other person to like me because that’s what gets you tips. And really, how is that different from media? I did an appearance with fans recently, and people were like, “Are you getting tired of this?” And I’m thinking, “No, this is the same as Mother’s Day at Gladstones. Instead of giving out drinks, I’m giving out signed pictures.”
I imagine the number of creepy dudes hitting on her has gone up from Ronda’s days as a bartender, but I bet there’s not a huge difference in terms of ridiculous questions.
AG: Are you fussy about your food when you’re not training?
RR: I try to keep healthy-ish, but I’m so on point when I’m in camp that having a vegetable wrap would actually only be healthy-ish because of the wrap on it.
AG: The wrap is the sin? That’s a lot of sacrifice.
RR: Yeah. Like last night, I got the fried calamari and I took all the bread off before dipping it, and that was my treat. And I had one little rip of the cotton candy because I thought maybe gourmet cotton candy would be different. It wasn’t. And I ate all the raspberries off the desserts. Everyone else had dessert. I ate the raspberries. And I wouldn’t even do that during camp. Let me show you what my training diet looks like. [Takes out her phone, pulls up a sample menu.] Here we go. 8 a.m.: Two teaspoons oat bran, two teaspoons chia seeds, two teaspoons hemp seeds; 10 a.m.: Train; 11:45: Post-exercise smoothie; 12 p.m.: Farmer’s scramble: one whole egg, plus two egg whites, two sides of turkey bacon; 4 p.m.: Snack: one apple, one-fourth cup raw almonds, one-fourth cup raw cashews; 6 p.m.: Train. Post-exercise smoothie, da, da, da. Before bed: Chamomile tea. Everything’s got an hour, an amount, everything.
AG: And you follow it to the letter?
RR: Yeah. And instead of vitamins, I have this giant shake twice a day, so it’s all fresh vegetables and fruits: a whole beet, a whole apple, two carrots, four strawberries, one cup of blueberries, two handfuls of red grapes, one whole lemon, one handful of spinach, one handful of kale, one-fourth handful of parsley, two stalks of celery, two tablespoons of hemp seeds, two tablespoons of chia seeds, one tablespoon of coconut oil, one chard leaf, no stem.
Ronda’s diet sounds terrible. No wonder she binges on Buffalo wings after a win.
AG: Cat person or dog person?
RR: Dog. My dog, Mochi, she changed my life.
AG: In what way?
RR: Knowing I was responsible for another living thing. When I got her, I decided even if I was a loser, my dog didn’t deserve to suffer for it. So though I was bartending and working three jobs, I made sure I woke up extra early in the morning to drive her to doggy day care. The first $35 of my shift went to Mochi. Even when I was eating Top Ramen noodles, I bought her top-shelf dog food because it wasn’t her fault that I was broke. There were times when I lived in my car, and I was like, “I have a dog, I need to …”
AG: You lived in your car?
RR: For a week or so once, yeah, after judo, before MMA. And I realized I couldn’t let that situation ever happen again because what would my dog do? It put pressure on me to succeed when I was responsible for another living thing.
(Brief reminder that Mochi was the ninth best dog in my inaugural (indogural?) fighter’s dog power rankings.)
On her friendship with fellow Four Horsewoman, “The Supernova from Moldova” Marina Shafir:
AG: How did you guys meet?
MS: You didn’t like me.
RR: I liked you.
MS: No, you didn’t. I complimented you on your Sponge Bob laces, on all sorts of things. Every time I tried to speak with you, you were a b—-.
RR: I just had a b—– demeanor. Listen, the first time she tried to talk to me, I was listening to my music, and I’m really into my music. And she taps me and says, “That’s Rage Against the Machine.” And I’m like, “You made me stop listening to Rage Against the Machine so you could tell me that I was listening to Rage Against the Machine?”
MS: Such a b—-.
AG: How old were you? How many years ago?
RR: We were both 13.
AG: How did you get past that rocky beginning?
RR: It was at a judo tournament. Everybody left to go eat after we all made weight, and I don’t know why, we were on a sugar high and I was like, “Hey Marina, you want to see something I’ve never shown anybody before?” And I twerked for her, before twerking was a thing. Way back in 2005.
MS: We’ve been like sisters ever since.
I think anyone involved with bounce music would argue that twerking has been a thing for a long time, but I guess 13-year-old Ronda Rousey wouldn’t be expected to know that.
AG: What virtue do you think is overrated?
RR: Maturity. Maturity is greatly overrated. That’s one of my mom’s favorite lines.
AG: When did she start telling you that?
RR: As a kid, so I wouldn’t take myself too seriously. What is that Dr. Seuss quote? “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” I think that’s what she wanted me to take away from that.
AG: And did you?
RR: As I got older I learned to be comfortable enough to act like myself. It took awhile to gain the confidence in every setting. I was extremely introverted and shy growing up. A lot of people are surprised to hear that since I’m so over the top now.
AG: Were you the kind of kid that would sit back and observe?
RR: I didn’t talk coherently until was 6, so I was forced to be an observer. Not having that many words, I learned a lot of patience.
AG: How important is patience in your career? I would imagine it’s pretty critical.
RR: One of my problems fighting is I am sometimes too impatient, and that’s something I’ve had to really train. One day my coach made me hit the bag for 30 rounds so that I would learn patience.
Aside from getting attacked in your sleep, I think Dr. AnnMaria De Mars is a pretty solid option for “Cool Mom with Good Advice.”
AG: Do you think it’s a good time or a tough time to be a woman in this culture?
RR: I think it’s the best time yet, because it’s always improving.
AG: How do you feel about how women are treated on social media?
RR: It can be creepy and weird. Personally, I wasn’t allowed to have a cellphone until I was 16. I think having a cellphone becomes a social crutch, especially during those uncomfortable puberty years. If I had a kid, I would try to keep them out of social media until they were at least in their teens.
AG: Do you want to have kids some day?
RR: Definitely. I’m an ovarian goldmine. I can’t waste these genes.
Does this mean there’s going to be a “Ronda Rousey Invitational” in which she screens dudes to be the father of her super-children?
AG: Who do you want most to make proud?
RR: My mother. She lives on the border of Santa Monica and Venice. My sister and their family live nearby, too. We have the most entertaining family dinners. There is no topic off the table, and no one ever gets offended. It’s a wit competition every time.
AG: Is everything a competition for you?
RR: Yes. Notice that I finished my drink first. Not an accident. Worse is, if I feel like I’m in a competition that I’m not going to win, I’m not playing. If people want to play Monopoly and I don’t think I’m taking the victory, I’m like, “F— it.” I’m either in it to win or I’m not in it at all.
AG: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told yourself?
RR: That I would be happy bartending for the rest of my life. I really tried to convince myself of that. That it would be great for me. But it just wasn’t. I was meant for something else. And now I see why I felt that way.
AG: Did you ever have body image issues?
RR: Huge body image issues growing up. Big time! I absolutely loathed how I looked until I was around 22 years old.
AG: What happened at 22 that changed that trajectory?
RR: I stopped caring. I stopped looking at the scale. After the Olympics I didn’t weigh myself. I ate as much as I wanted all the time. The feeling of having my belly full was something I was compelled to do, and once I got that out of my system, I felt like I was able to break my emotional dependency on food.
AG: Conflating food with feelings is a complicated struggle for many women.
RR: Listen, there’s nothing wrong with your discipline or you just because you ate whatever. But if the best thing about your day is what you eat, there’s something wrong with your f—— day. What changed for me is I was always thinking I wanted to make my body look a certain way so I would be happy. But when I made myself happy first, then the body came after. It was a journey of self-discovery and trial and error.
AG: When you say you wanted your body to look “a certain way,” what was the image in your head?
RR: The image in my head was the Maxim cover girl. In the end, instead of making my body resemble one of those chicks, I decided to try to change the idea of what a Maxim chick could look like.
AG: And then, in September 2013, you were on the cover.
RR: I wasn’t conventional, but apparently, I was acceptable. [Laughs.]
Destroying arms probably is the best way to get over body image issues, so congrats to Ronda for moving through that mental block.
AG: What makes you feel out of control?
RR: Drinking too much, which is why I barely do it now. It’s like a once-a-year event, and I always regret it. I’ll start to feel like, “Ahhhh, let’s go dancing tonight, yes, woo!” I’ll do the “white-girl woo,” and it’s not good. Alcohol is bad, kids. Stop at buzzed. “Stop at buzzed” is my mantra.
I should probably buy into Ronda’s mantra, even if it’s more fun to go a little bit past that.
AG: What sports do you watch?
RR: Boxing, MMA and tennis. I like individual sports the most. I feel like team sports dilute pressure, and I don’t really understand why everyone likes them so much.
AG: What other women do you admire?
RR: Serena Williams, and, of course, my mother. But I love watching Serena. I think she’s awesome.
AG: Do you play tennis?
RR: I’m really bad with ball sports. I have been hit in the face with every type of ball.
AG: Are you sure you want to say that?
RR: [Laughs.] I’m serious. Basketball, football, softball, baseball, foosball, pinball, ping-pong ball, rugby ball, cricket ball. They have all hit me in the face.
RR: I have tiny hands. I can’t catch things. I have the smallest hands in the UFC. My hands are smaller than 115-pound girls’. I have the strongest chin and the most tiny, fragile hands.
AG: The bantamweight champion of the world has elf hands?
RR: [Holds up her palms, wrinkles her nose.] Carnie hands.
I really want Bruce Buffer to announce her as Ronda “Carnie Hands” Rousey for UFC 190. I desperately need for that to happen.
AG: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
RR: It depends on the day. Usually, I look in the mirror and ask, “What have you gotten yourself into now?” I will literally ask myself that question. Right before a fight, for example. Or I’ll be on a photo shoot, tanned up in a swimsuit. Or say I’m in a trailer on a movie set and I’m in costume. Or a week after a fight, when I’ve gained a few pounds and can’t see the bones in my feet anymore. Then, as I always do, I will stare at the reflection of my marshmallowy face and ask, “What have you gotten yourself into now?”
AG: And what’s your answer?
RR: I just shrug and say, “I don’t know, but you’re here, so you better f—— deal with it, girl.”
I really loved this interview, and I don’t understand how people can find Ronda unlikeable after stuff like this. She’s got carnie hands, for Pete’s sake!