UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is a very determined woman.
She said she probably gets that quality from her mom, Ann Maria Rousey DeMars, a former Judo world champion who currently works as a professor at USC.
“My mom is the mean version of me,” the outspoken Rousey quipped. “She’s 6-feet of mean shoved down to 5-feet-2.”
Before Rousey, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in Judo, ever stepped into the cage as a professional fighter, she made it her mission to convert UFC president Dana White into a women’s MMA fan.
“It was a goal of mine from the very beginning actually,” Rousey said. “I just refused to be ignored pretty much. I said to myself, ‘What would work?’ I just thought, ‘I’m going to make myself so impossible to ignore and make myself into something that they didn’t even know that they needed.’
“Before I became a pro I was saying that, so when I was training for my pro debut at King of the Cage is when I first said it on camera. I said, ‘This guy is going to love me and there’s nothing he can do about it.’ I was so sure. You know, I never doubted it.”
Rousey, who will be part of the first women’s fight in UFC history when she faces Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157 on Feb. 23 at Honda Center, has been winning over fans every time she fights. She is 6-0 with six victories via armbar submission. Only one fighter has made it out of the first minute with her.
“Gaining the respect of men who didn’t think women belong in a gym is something that I’ve become very good at over the years,” Rousey said. “He (White) wasn’t the first person to doubt me before he met me. I’m used to changing people’s minds. If you are a woman and you are training, every single time you go into a new environment you have to prove yourself all over again.
When White started paying attention to Rousey’s fights, he recognized something he likes in all his favorite fighters: She is a finisher.
“Everybody was saying, ‘Oh, he’s bringing her in because he has a crush on her and she’s so hot and this and that,’” White said. “You know, Gina Carano is hot too and you didn’t see me trying to get into women’s MMA with them. The difference between her and any other female fighter I’ve met is she’s cute and she’s out here interacting, but when she goes and fights she’s mean, she’s nasty and she likes to finish people. And that’s what I like in a fighter whether you are a man or a woman.
“What I always said is the women’s divisions aren’t deep enough. There’s not a deep enough talent pool to start bringing in all these weight divisions and get women into MMA. Well, the way that I look at this — I had this conversation a couple of weeks ago when the media was saying to me, ‘It sounds like this is the Ronda Rousey show.’ I said, ‘You’re (darn) right it is.’ I started watching her fights. I started watching her interviews. I met her one day at one of the fights and we talked and, obviously, I think that she can do it. It takes a certain type of person, not just personality, but a certain type of fighter to get people interested and to get people excited about women’s fighting, period. I think she’s got it.”