Ronda Rousey to Defend Bantamweight Belt Against Liz Carmouche in UFC 157 Headliner

Posted by: on December 6, 2012

Ronda Rousey will put her newly christened UFC bantamweight title on the line against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, promotion president Dana White announced Thursday. It will be the first women’s bout in the history of the Las Vegas-based organization.

At Thursday’s UFC on Fox 5 news conference, White officially introduced Rousey as the promotion’s inaugural women’s bantamweight champion. After he presented her with the belt, White revealed that Rousey would defend her crown against Carmouche in the UFC 157 headliner.

UFC 157 takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The organization’s confirmation of the contest comes after it was mistakenly announced that Rousey would face Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos at the Feb. 23 event. Santos quickly shot down the booking, however, stating that while her team had been negotiating with the UFC, she would be unable to make the cut down to 135 pounds in time for a February meeting with Rousey.

Nevertheless, “Cyborg” did reveal that if given more time to make her weight cut that she might be able to trim down to bantamweight in order to challenge for Rousey’s title, contradicting previous reports asserting that such a cut could cause health complications for the former Strikeforce featherweight champion.

While White stated that the Rousey-Santos contest was his first choice for the UFC 157 headliner, he also revealed that Carmouche was the most willing alternative opponent for the champion.

“[Rousey-Santos] was obviously the fight we wanted to make. We wanted to do that at 135 pounds, and we worked hard to make that fight. I believe that this fight will happen. I truly believe the next one will be the Cyborg fight at 135 pounds,” said White. “Let me put it to you this way: [Carmouche is] who wanted to fight [Rousey]. People aren’t kicking the doors down of Zuffa to fight her.”

A 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, Rousey has made her name in MMA by hyperextending elbows seemingly at will, submitting each of her first six opponents in the first round with her patented straight armbar. The 25-year-old captured the Strikeforce bantamweight crown from Miesha Tate this past March and defended it successfully in August, stopping former titlist Sarah Kaufman in just 54 seconds.

“[The Santos fight] is going to happen eventually. I can’t make these girls fight me when I want them to fight me,” said Rousey. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Liz. She’s the only one that stepped up and said she wanted this fight right now. It speaks a lot to her. When the other girls actually want to come to the big show, they know where I’m at.

“I didn’t know about this until this morning. I don’t even know what to make of it. It means a lot, and I feel like we have a lot to prove at this event. No one is going to be disappointed. I think the women are here to stay and we’re gonna prove it.”

Carmouche, 28, began her pro career in 2010, rattling off five straight wins before earning a shot at then-Strikeforce bantamweight queen Marloes Coenen. Though “Girl-Rilla” gave the champion all she could handle, the experienced Coenen pulled out a fourth-round submission win to retain her belt. A decision loss to Sarah Kaufman would follow for Carmouche, who then rebounded with a pair of wins in her last two outings under the Invicta FC banner, finishing Ashleigh Curry and Kaitlin Young in April and July, respectively.

 

from SHERDOG.COM

Filed Under: Blog, News

Ronda Rousey Armbars Sarah Kaufman, Retains Strikeforce Crown in 54 Seconds

Posted by: on August 18, 2012

SAN DIEGO - If Ronda Rousey’s armbar is not yet regarded as the most devastating single move in all of sports, it probably should be.

The Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion ran her professional record to 6-0 Saturday night against former title holder and challenger Sarah Kaufman at the Valley View Casino Center. It was Rousey’s sixth win via first-round submission.

This time, her thus-far-unstoppable armbar forced a tap in just 54 seconds. Kaufman fell to 15-2 in her career with the loss. Each win of Rousey’s has been by armbar.

The less experienced Rousey applied an aggressive approach out of the gate, to which the veteran Kaufman had no time for response.

The fast pace of the match is symbolic of Rousey’s career thus far, as her rise has been meteoric. She needed just five bouts to claim the title, but proving that quick ascent was no flash in the pan was an obvious theme entering Saturday’s match.

“I can’t call myself champion until I defend my belt,” Rousey had said before the fight.

She can indeed start calling herself champion now. And until someone has an answer for her armbar, she will be able to do so for a while.

The next to try is yet to be determined, but if Rousey gets her way it will be Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, who the champion called out in her post-match interview.

By Kyle Kensing | Yahoo! Contributor Network

 

Ronda Doesn’t Feel “That Bad”

Posted by: on March 5, 2012

by Steven Marrocco from MMAJunkie:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Newly minted Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey may or may not have expected a reaction when she claimed that she could not only beat Miesha Tate, but Tate’s boyfriend, Brian Caraway too.

But when Caraway fired back on Twitter and wrote that women couldn’t compete with men and, regrettably, promising physical violence to Rousey in a mock confrontation, Rousey couldn’t help but smile.

Neither could her mother and friend as they watched Caraway and Tate attempt to explain his statements and attack Rousey in subsequent messages.

“[Caraway] and Miesha were up all night tweeting and trying to defend themselves, and it was all over the front page of MMA.tv, and me and my friend and my mom were just sitting there laughing that they’re stressed out and tweeting all night, and we’re like, eating trail mix and watching ‘The Fifth Element,’” Rousey (5-0 MMA, 3-0 SF) said following her title-winning performance against Tate (12-3 MMA, 5-2 SF) at a Strikeforce event bearing their names.

It might have been icing on the cake for Rousey, who was ready to reconcile with Tate before the champ headbutted her at the weigh-ins for the event, which took place Saturday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, and aired on Showtime.

Rousey said she “didn’t feel that bad” about dislocating Tate’s elbow and torquing it in awkward directions before Tate finally submitted late in the first round.

At the post-event press conference, the new champ said she was impressed by Tate’s fortitude, but she showed no more regret for her actions than she did afterward in the cage. She also said the referee shouldn’t be blamed for not stopping the fight even as it seemed clear as day that Rousey had damaged Tate’s arm.

“She’s a tough chick,” Rousey said of the former champ. “That hurts. I’ve had my elbow dislocated before, and that’s no fun. But the rule is in judo that even if it’s dislocated, and they don’t tap, you’ve got to keep going. I don’t think the referee should be criticized for not stopping it because those are the rules I’m used to.”

Rousey welcomed her next likely challenge, that of former champ Sarah Kaufman, who defeated Alexis Davis on the event’s preliminary card. There was none of the animosity between them that characterized the buildup to Saturday’s event.

Kaufman likely won’t take that bait. But if she does, it might be all the better for Rousey.

“People have to realize about Twitter, it’s not just chatter,” she said. “You’re constantly releasing written statements that even if you delete it right away, it’s out there.

“So people (such as Caraway) have to think a little bit more before they say something sexist like that. Because I was like, ‘Dude, you ever heard of (tennis player) Billy Jean King?’ I mean, who says that? That’s my comment. Tweet it.”

Filed Under: News

Ronda Beats Tate, Wins Championship

Posted by: on March 4, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey used her trademark armbar to dethone Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha (Takedown) Tate in a high-profile women’s MMA main event Saturday night at the Nationwide Arena.

Tate’s arm was bent at an abnormal angle before she finally tapped at four minutes 27 seconds of the first round.

“She’s good, she’s legit but I don’t feel that bad about it,” Rousey said of the nasty submission win.

Rousey, a former Olympic judo bronze medallist who has won all five of her fights in the first round via armbar, is expected to take on former champion Sarah Kaufman of Victoria next.

Tate came out swinging but Rousey tripped her early. Rousey seemed to have locked in the armbar but Tate somehow escaped.

Tate pulled Rousey down and looked to take her back. Rousey scrambled free and got back to her feet.

After a brief exchange on the feet, Rousey used a judo hip toss to take the champion down. Rousey moved into mount, transitioning to an armbar. Tate tried to resist but Rousey got the submission hold and started cranking the arm.

It bent and bent before Tate finally tapped.

“It’s a little sore,” Tate said later of the arm.

Strikeforce had made the most of the looks of Tate (12-3) and Rousey (5-0), bidding to add some glam to the women’s side of the sport.

Rousey’s four previous fights had lasted a total of two minutes 18 seconds.

Tate-Rousey confirmed for March 3 in Strikeforce

Posted by: on January 8, 2012

Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate will defend her title for the first time when she meets Ronda Rousey in March.

The rumored title fight was made official Saturday night by Strikeforce and Showtime on the broadcast of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine. The fight will take place on March 3 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The promotion returns to the venue for the second straight year to coincide with The Arnold Sports Festival.

Tate won the 135-pound title against Marloes Coenen in July. Ironically, that was a fight that was pushed from last year’s Strikeforce event in Columbus when Tate suffered a training injury. Now she’ll fight there, but to defend her new belt.

But on Saturday’s Strikeforce broadcast, Tate was not shy about saying she doesn’t believe Rousey has yet earned a title shot against her. She believes former champ Sarah Kaufman has, though. Kaufman is the last fighter to beat Tate, who has since gone on a six-fight winning streak. There has been a good amount of back-and-forth between the three fighters on social media, making the potential for fireworks when any of the three of them are paired up.

“(There will be) more (fireworks than you’ve seen online). I can guarantee it – more,” Tate said about the fight with Rousey. “Honestly, I just don’t think she was next in line. I think she’s done great so far. She’s had a really impressive career. But I think she’s still new. She’s only a year into her career; I’m about six (years). Kaufman’s about six (years). Kaufman’s 14-1, I’m 12-2. We’re kind of veterans of the sport and coming in, (Rousey) kind of talked herself into a title fight. I’m going to be very excited to send her where she belongs, and that’s the back of the line.”

Rousey (4-0, 2-0 Strikef0rce) has been on a tear, winning all four of her fights by armbar submission, and all of them in less than a minute. In November, she submitted Julia Budd in 39 seconds on a Strikeforce Challengers show, and in her promotional debut in August, she submitted Sarah D’Alelio in just 25 seconds. Both of those fights were at 145 pounds, so she will drop to 135 to challenge Tate.

Tate (12-2, 5-1 Strikeforce) has four finishes in her six-fight winning streak, including a fourth-round submission of Coenen to win the title in July. She was a high school wrestler and trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., with the likes of Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and her longtime boyfriend, UFC fighter Bryan Caraway.

Even though the Tate-Rousey fight is one Tate thinks should wait, at least until Rousey has some more wins under her belt, Zuffa president Dana White on Saturday said he’s excited for the fight.

“I’m very much (looking forward to it),” White told Showtime play-by-play man Mauro Ranallo. “Two talented fighters, and I say it all the time: Mixed martial arts is so respectful and everybody loves each other. But when they don’t, it makes it a lot more fun. And I’m really looking forward to that fight.”

Tate-Rousey is likely to take co-main event positioning on the card. Though a main event has not yet been announced, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has said the promotion is targeting that date for the heavyweight tournament finals between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier. Cormier is awaiting clearance to fight for a broken hand.

Filed Under: Blog, News

Another fight, another arm for Rousey

Posted by: on November 18, 2011

Ronda Rousey Beats Julia Budd in 39 Seconds of round 1 - via Armbar

By Sergio Non, USA TODAY

The only difference this time was that she hung on until there was no doubt.

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey raised her professional record to 4-0 by submitting fellow 145-pounder Julia Budd in the co-main event of Strikeforce Challengers 20 on Saturday in Las Vegas. Rousey got the tapout 39 seconds into the fight with an armbar, the hold that won all of her previous mixed martial arts fights, including three amateur affairs before turning pro in March.
None of Rousey’s fights, pro or amateur, have lasted longer than 57 seconds.

She started this one with another rapid conclusion in mind. Rousey clinched with Budd and pushed her into the cage five seconds after the bout started, got the takedown 11 seconds later and quickly mounted her. Budd employed a standard MMA technique for fighters trapped on the bottom by using her feet to push away from the fence, but it gave Rousey space to isolate her opponent’s right arm and extend it for the submission hold.

Budd rolled in an effort to escape or at least prevent her limb from being stretched, but Rousey converted the hold to a belly-down armbar and torqued the elbow further, then completely dislocated the joint as she rolled back into traditional armbar position. The arm was clearly popped out of the elbow at a painful-looking angle by the time Budd yielded with a tap.

The definitive ending contrasted sharply with Rousey’s August victory against Sarah D’Alelio, who claimed she did not give up even though Rousey and cageside observers heard a cry or yell that the referee interpreted as a verbal submission. The crowd for that bout booed the uncertain nature of the finish.

No one could question the result this time.

“I’m stoked,” Rousey said during her post-fight interview in the cage. “That was really good. I’m glad you guys are cheering for me this time.”

Rousey, who plans to drop down a weight class, called out 135-pound former champion Sarah Kaufman. Although Kaufman hopes for a rematch with titleholder Miesha Tate, Rousey wants to clear her own shot at the belt.

“If Sarah Kaufman’s next in line, please, Strikeforce, let me get a crack at her first,” Rousey said. “I really want to have a title fight against Miesha Tate. I don’t want to take a risk on her losing.”

Kaufman defeated Tate in 2009.

Saturday’s main event took even less time than Rousey-Budd. Lumumba Sayers produced a 28-second stoppage of Antwain Britt, who was dropping to middleweight for the first time after several fights at 205 pounds. After breaking off from a clinch against the fence, Sayers started a flurry of short punches, including two left hooks that landed solidly followed by a right uppercut that snapped Britt’s head and crumpled him to the canvas.

Alhough it was Sayers’ fifth professional win overall, it was his first in Strikeforce and first via knockout after four submission victories. Britt has lost three in a row, two of them by knockout.

 

Ronda Rousey vs. Julia Budd booked for November Strikeforce Challengers event

Posted by: on September 6, 2011

Ronda Rousey vs. Julia Budd Scheduled for Strikeforce 20 on November 18, 2011 at The Palms

While MMA pundits continue to debate the future of women’s MMA, Strikeforce continues to book female fights.

The latest contest features Canadian prospect Julia Budd (2-1 MMA, 2-1 SF) against judo specialist Ronda Rousey (3-0 MMA, 1-0 SF).

Strikeforce officials today announced the bout will take place at an as-yet-unannounced November event, but company brass stopped short of announcing an official date or location for the card.

MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has since confirmed with sources close to the event that the bout will take place at a Strikeforce Challengers event, likely Strikeforce Challengers 20 at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

A fitness model and personal trainer with a Muay Thai background, as well, Budd fights for the fourth time under the Strikeforce banner. “The Jewell made her debut in October 2010 with a TKO victory over Shana Olsen. Budd then suffered a setback with a 14-second knockout loss to Amanda Nunes this past January before bouncing back with a decision win over Germaine de Randamie.

Meanwhile, Rousey looks for her second Strikeforce win. The 24-year-old former Olympian debuted earlier this month with a controversial submission win over Sarah D’Alelio, who insisted she did not verbally tap, as referee Steve Mazzagatti contended. Rousey has six total MMA bouts as an amateur and pro, and all six ended via armbar in less than one minute.

Filed Under: News

Still Undefeated With Another Armbar Win In Under One Minute

Posted by: on August 12, 2011

Ronda in teh Locker room after her win #3

Ronda’s fights are becoming very familiar in a good way.  The script and outcome seem to be the same.  Pro fight #3 was no different.  Yes, you guessed it, armbar win in under a minute, 25 seconds to be exact.  Even BJ Pen had to be impressed.  Ronda improves to 3-0 as a pro MMA Fighter.

BJ Penn came into Ronda's room to personally congratulate her.

Here is how the fight went:

Referee Steve Mazzagatti starts the bout. Rousey doubles up on her jab and clinches immediately. Rousey quickly jumps into an armbar, and Mazzagatti steps in and stops the fight. D’Alelio is not happy, and maybe for good reason. D’Aleio never taps, but the fight is over. Rousey claims that D’Aleio verbally submitted, and her opponent denies it in their in-cage postfight interviews. The official time is 0:25 of round one.

She will hurt you: Ronda Rousey, 24, ‘owns it’ in MMA ring

Posted by: on August 12, 2011

Flat on your back is not an ideal position in combat sports. Boxers blankly stare at the lights, trying to comprehend how they got there. Wrestlers’ shoulders are that much closer to getting pinned. And judo players have probably just been hurled over an opponent’s hip.

But in Ronda Rousey’s relatively new world of women’s mixed martial arts, it can be an advantage. And when the former world-class judo player clutches her opponent’s wrist to her chest, laces her legs around that arm and across her victim’s chest and wrenches with all her might, the outcome is inevitable.

Hips arched and staring above, all that’s left for Rousey is the waiting. As she forces that elbow to bend in an excruciatingly unnatural way, she’s wonders.
What’s next? The tapping or the popping?

Either one’s fine by Rousey. Because what follows is a feeling that cascades through her body with an undeniable rush.

Thankfully. A sense of relief.

At 5 feet 7 and fighting at 145 pounds, Rousey is a walking dichotomy. Her toned physique and fighting pedigree are belied by her soft features and engaging smile. Unknown to many is that for anyone who enters the cage, it’s a killer smile, for their radius and ulna risk being yanked out of position from their humerus.

Truth be told, while the armbar has become the weapon of choice for Rousey, just the mere talk of the submission causes the 24-year-old Venice resident to be repulsed into a series of mini-convulsions.

“You’re dislocating someone’s elbow right over our crotch,” Rousey said, punctuating it with an involuntary shimmy. “It’s like POP! POP! And after it pops out, it squooshes into nothing. It kind of squooshes right on your crotch.

“It’s so disgusting. It gives me jitters.”

Rousey knows the pain. She’s dislocated both elbows, along with three knee surgeries, a dislocated shoulder, a broken foot, broken toe, broken nose (three times). It all adds up.

“I look like a 2011 Camaro with 300,000 miles on it,” she laughs. “It looks like a good model, but it’s beat the hell up.”

Rousey’s disdain for her finishing move is of little comfort to other fighters. In three amateur bouts and two professional matchups, all have ended via armbar. All in the first round. All in less than a minute.

Gene LeBell, the legendary former judo champion and renowned “Godfather of Grappling” who serves as one of Rousey’s mentors with Team Hayastan, said Rousey’s skills, conditioning and drive provide the potential for her to go all the way.

“She gets in that ring and she owns it mentally,” said LeBell, 78, who not only has the experience to assess Rousey’s talents but the background in pro wrestling to express them colorfully. “She says, ‘This is my house. This is my bedroom, my kitchen, my garage and my front room.’

“She’s gonna annihilate you. She’s gonna mutilate you. She’s gonna assassinate you.”

In two minutes and 57 seconds over the span of a year, Rousey, a former Olympic bronze medalist in judo, has been able to put away five MMA opponents, dislocate three elbows and create a stir in the MMA world.

On Friday, Rousey (2-0) will take on Sarah D’Alelio (4-1) in a featherweight fight on the main card of Strikeforce Challengers at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Televised on Showtime, it is her first fight with Strikeforce, which has been a stalwart in the industry when it comes to promoting women’s MMA.

The catch is that five months ago, Strikeforce was bought by Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC. And while UFC president Dana White has said Strikeforce will be an independent promotion, the nonexistence of women in the UFC — unless you’re a shapely ring girl — is hard to ignore.

Whether’s it comes down to skill or a gender issue, some MMA fans have no desire to watch female fighters. And that is an issue that turns the affable Rousey into a defiant pundit.

“Some people are stupid. Some people don’t understand. Some people just like to hate and disagree,” Rousey said. “They’re sitting on the couch in their mother’s basement and don’t want to think about some chick doing better than they are.”

AnnMaria De Mars is more pragmatic about it. Or at least as pragmatic as a psychologist and former judo world champion can be about her own daughter.

“Think about why people come and watch. I think Ronda has a good chance of making that happen more,” said De Mars, who in 1984 became the first U.S. athlete to win a World Judo Championship, three years before Ronda was born. “To be completely frank, she’s pretty. If she were butt ugly, they wouldn’t come watch her.”

Rousey knows what a pretty face can do for women’s MMA. Look no further than Gina Carano, whose beauty helped elevate the sport and her image to the point where she is starring in the yet-to-be-released Steven Soderbergh-directed action movie “Haywire.”

Carano’s dismantling two years ago at the hands of top-ranked Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos brought forth cries of overrated … and huge ratings for Strikeforce. Rousey, however, is as eager to praise Carano as she is to fight her.

“I think Gina Carano saved my life. I would not be doing MMA if it weren’t for her. I don’t think I would have a viable career if it wasn’t for her,” Rousey said. “People can hate on her all they want, but you know what? I don’t care how she did it, but she made women’s MMA a real product. And I’m very grateful for her.

“If I fight her one day, I’ll do everything in my power to slap her across her face with her own arm, but I have lots of respect for everything she’s done. She changed my life and I never met her. I don’t have one bad thing to say about her.”

The one person who matters the most though doesn’t trade leg kicks and left hooks. He’s the one who signs the checks.

“I am going to make Dana White love me. I love listening to him talk,” Rousey said with a laugh. “He’ll come around because he’s a smart businessman. As soon as he sees it’s gonna make money, he’ll come around. So I’m trying to do whatever I can to make women’s MMA marketable and profitable.”

For Rousey, it’s simple.

Eventually. A sense of fairness.

With a dearth of female MMA fighters in Southern California, Rousey is accustomed to working out with men. And not just any men. UFC featherweight and Ultimate Fighter runner-up Manny Gamburyan. Strikeforce lightweight Karen Darabedyan. Ultimate Fighter participants Roman Mitichyan, Sevak Magakian and Sako Chivitchian.

“Because she’s a girl, they go harder. Because she’s a girl, they come at her harder,” wrestling and conditioning coach Leo Frincu said. “It works to her advantage.”

LeBell said the difference is that Rousey remains grounded.

“She listens. A lot of guys get a couple of wins in MMA and all of a sudden their heads are so big they can’t get through the door,” LeBell said. “She’s got her game plan, she listens, she looks right through you and does what you say.”

Aside from the obvious advantages of training with stronger fighters, Rousey sees another edge.

“They’re more technical than girls are. They’re much more disciplined with staying with a more structured way that they fight,” she said. “A lot of girls spaz out and it’s kinda hard. It’s harder to handle a spaz than someone who is actually a good fighter because you can play a game with them and you can actually make decisions. With a lot of girls, you have to improvise way, way more.”

Structure has been a part of Rousey’s life since she was young. She was a swimmer — “a skinny, scrawny, tiny, little thing,” De Mars recalled — growing up in North Dakota, her father Ron Rousey coaxing her out of bed before dawn to drive her to practices and meets. Between her mom molding her to have a mind like an athlete and her dad constantly pumping her up, the road had been set.

“I was always convinced I was going to be the best in something if I just believed in it,” Rousey said. “Because when you’re a little kid, your dad’s right about everything.”

But Rousey’s world was rocked after Ron Rousey broke his back in a sledding accident. His recovery was slowed by a rare blood disorder — Bernard-Soulier syndrome, which causes abnormal bleeding — that led to a prognosis of two years left to live. Not wanting his daughters to see their dad physically deteriorate as the medical bills mounted, Ron Rousey took his own life.

Ronda was 8.

“Her father truly loved her. There’s not a doubt about that,” De Mars said. “It’s really hard to lose a dad, but in a way, if you lose a horrible father, you never had a day with a good dad. And Ronda had a lot of good days with her dad. It was a terrible loss, a terrible loss of a really good person.”

For Rousey, it was the loss of a man who always saw the best in her. When she didn’t speak in complete sentences until she was 6 because of a speech impediment and a heavy dose of shyness, it was Ron Rousey who brushed it off. “Ronnie’s a sleeper,” he’d say.

He knew her best. He was her biggest fan. Even in his final moments.

“He left on the note that I am gonna be the best in the world in something. Whatever I do, I’m gonna be the best at it,” Rousey said, a hint of emotion showing as her eyes soften. “And I think making him proud is a big motivator for me. I just want to prove he didn’t believe in me for nothing.”

Sadly. A sense of purpose.

De Mars packed up the family and moved out to Southern California. Rousey lost interest in swimming and decided to follow her mom into judo. Her ascension in the sport, between her genes and her will, was hardly a surprise.

But to make the U.S. Olympic team at 17 and be the youngest judo player at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics? That was a bit of a shock. With that success came struggles.

She was teased at Santa Monica High for having big arms and called Miss Man. Rousey also battled maintaining her fighting weight of 138.6 pounds, which led to bulimia.

A move up to the 154-pound weight class brought an end to the fights with the scales. A silver medal at the 2007 world championships was the harbinger for what was to come in 2008 at Beijing: Becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s judo.

With a bronze medal around her neck, Rousey was coming off a high. At least it seemed that way.

What people didn’t see was the toll the grind took on her. The years of pressure to make weight. The same coaches. The same training sessions. All the traveling. And the lofty expectations.

“You get to the point where you’re beating everybody, you win this, you win that,” De Mars said of the strain on her daughter. “You go to a tournament, winning is expected. But if you lose? ‘How could you have lost?’ It was a no-win situation.”

So Rousey walked away from it all. Estranged from her family and upsetting her coaches who had visions of gold at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the 21-year-old Rousey landed a bartending job, got an apartment and embraced her carefree life. After a year, she looked into a career as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, but getting moved around every four years held little appeal.

“You didn’t have any say where you would go. And I’ve already worked in four-year cycles,” Rousey said, alluding to her Olympic experiences.

Meanwhile, Rousey would occasionally go to grappling workouts, staying in shape, rolling around with male fighters and having fun dabbling in disciplines far less regimented than her life in judo. She remembers watching the Carano-Cyborg fight and not being blown away. Before long, the men who tangled with her, who competed in Strikeforce and the UFC, suggested a new career for Rousey.

But where to start? She knew legendary coaches LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan and their camp at Team Hayastan in North Hollywood. She trusted their tutelage, their instincts, their decisions. It helped that she had known them since the day she was born, which proved vital when conquering that last opponent.

Who better to help convince her mother?

“She didn’t want me to do judo, that people would expect too much out of me because I was her daughter,” Rousey said. “She didn’t want me to do MMA. She thought I’d get my face bashed in.”

For De Mars, she had mixed feelings. She trusted Chivichyan and LeBell, but whereas judo was second nature for her, MMA was a new world that she admittedly viewed with a jaundiced eye.

“In judo, I knew exactly what was going on, I knew the people she was fighting, I knew the odds of her winning were pretty good,” De Mars said. “Any time you’re uncertain about something, you’re more anxious.”

After De Mars signed off on it, Rousey went at it full bore. Coaches Frincu and Edmond Taverdyan (striking) were brought in. From March to August in 2010, Rousey trained, worked as a veterinary assistant at CARE, volunteered her time teaching judo to kids and trained even more.

“We started out on Day One, we had a goal,” said Frincu, a former world champion wrestler from Romania who owns Results Personal Training Studio in Sherman Oaks. “When you start with somebody in anything, you set small goals. You accomplish that first step, then you go to the next step.

“With her, we set the goal to win the world title. We look at Cyborg or Gina Carano, those are two people we train for always. She still has that goal since Day One. Her progress has been spectacular.”

When Rousey signed her Strikeforce contract in June, it allowed her to quit her job at CARE and train full-time.

It’s not unusual to see Rousey going through a strenuous workout at Results, then later that evening rolling on the mats at S K Golden Boys Wrestling Club in Van Nuys or sparring at Glendale Fighting Club or teaching judo at Dynamix MMA in Santa Monica.

“Very few people have that championship mentality. She visualizes what she wants and goes for it,” Frincu said. “She’s in a zone every time she comes in here. Not everyone can pull that off.”

It is an exhausting routine. Most evenings find Rousey collapsing at home with her dog, a Dogo Argentino named Mochi, and checking out her Facebook and Twitter pages and sleeping.

“I have no life,” she said without regret.

It is a perfect scenario for Rousey. Several coaches for several disciplines. Training never gets stagnant. Decisions are made together.

“When I was in judo, they had to push me to train more. Now that I’m in MMA, my coaches tell me to do less,” Rousey said with a smile. “I haven’t had that kind of enthusiasm in forever, so it’s really refreshing.”

Rousey reflects on her life and recognizes the roller-coaster aspect of it all. After all the pain, sacrifices and injuries, she knows the journey has been difficult.

But the current path has never felt so good.

“I’m glad the hard part is over. Now I’m just doing the fun part. I’m getting all the good stuff, finally,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I felt so positive about my life. I was living my life in a state of emergency for years, now it’s like, ‘Wow, finally.’

“I always feel bad. Friends of mine are going through hard times, finding employment and all this stuff. I almost feel guilty for being so happy. I’m one of the lucky ones right now and I know it.

“I earned it.”

Finally. At long last.

A sense of belonging.

Filed Under: News

Rousey vs. D’Alelio At Strikeforce Challengers 18

Posted by: on July 6, 2011

Ronda Rousey vs Sarah D'Alelio - August 12, 2011 - Strikeforce at the Palms in Las Vegas

For her 3rd Pro MMA fight, Olympic judo bronze medalist “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (2-0) will go against Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (4-1),  in a 145-pound matchup. D’Alelio, the first woman to sign a Strikeforce contact under the new Zuffa regime, was slated to make her debut on June 18th in Dallas, TX against a returning Gina Carano. Unfortunately, Carano was forced off of the Dallas card due to revoked medical clearance by her doctor. In an attempt to salvage the bout, new Strikeforce matchmaker Sean Shelby contacted Rousey and offered her a contract, however Rousey was already scheduled to compete on a June 17th Hard Knocks card and when that promotion wouldn’t release her from her previously signed contract, Strikeforce scrapped the bout all together.

This fight will be on the main card of the August 12th Strikeforce Challengers 18 event at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV.

Strikeforce Challengers 18 airs LIVE on Showtime starting at 11pm EST and features a main event matchup between Jorge Gurgel (15-5) and Joe “Hybrid” Duarte (9-2).

Filed Under: News