There are plenty of athletes who believe that it’s not their responsibility to portray themselves as role models. Ronda Rousey is not one of them.
Rousey, the reigning UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, recently sent a personal video message to Steve Watts, a man who was paralyzed in an MMA fight last year. The injury occurred when Watts attempted to slam his opponent during a bout in California. As the two men fell to the mat, Watts’ opponent grabbed a headlock forcing Watts to land forcefully on the top of his head. Immediately, his body went limp, and the fight was stopped. Last month, Watts awoke to see a video message from Ronda Rousey on his phone.
Hi, Steve. My name’s Ronda. I stumbled across your story. A friend of mine sent it to me, and I just wanted to wish you the best possible luck on your recovery. I can’t possibly understand everything that you’re going through, but if I’ve ever learned anything, it’s that being in pursuit of a near impossible goal is one of the most rewarding endeavors that you can ever embark on.
“Because she’s such a badass,” Watts said to LostCoastOutpost, “people think she’s mean or cruel. We all have these many faces, but I noticed she was holding her hand to her heart, and for a martial artist of that stature, that struck me as unusual and clearly kind.”
Watts responded to Rousey with his own video (both videos were originally posted to Facebook, but edited together above via MMADigest). “It shows a lot of wisdom, and it shows a lot of kindness,” Watts says in his video response to the women’s champ.
Currently, Watts moves around by using a mouth-operated wheelchair. To help pay for his medical expenses, a Give Forward page was set up, with a little more than half of the $50,000 goal met thus far. Hopefully Rousey’s exposure to Watts’ plight will move the needle further towards that goal. Rousey’s next title defense is at UFC 193 next month against striker Holly Holm. As she prepares for that tough test, Watts continues rehabilitation, in the hope that one day he’ll be able to gain back his mobility.