Fighter & The Kid Podcast: Growing up Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey's training routine as a kid growing up under the tutelage of her mother, Dr. AnnMaria DeMars, is a famous part of her evolution as an athlete and a big reason why she's the most dominant female fighter in the UFC today.
Stories from her youth where her mom would literally tackle her at any time during the day or night while practicing Judo maneuvers helped the future champion prepare not only for the Olympics, but an eventual transformation into a mixed martial artist.
As it turns out, Rousey was so committed to her training as a Judoka that she actually dropped out of high school to pursue her dream of making it to the Olympics. Of course weeks after she made this decision, Rousey's world was shattered during an unfortunate training accident.
"It was like a month after I dropped out, I started doing home schooling and stuff like that, I tore my ACL. Like a month after doing judo," Rousey said when co-hosting the latest episode of 'The Fighter and the Kid' podcast.
At the time of the knee injury, Rousey's mom was so intense about her training that she thought the future UFC champion was just milking it and wasn't seriously hurt. It was only a day later while working at another Judo academy where one of the coaches there realized Rousey's leg was in pretty bad shape.
"She made me get up with my knee freshly torn, finish practice, high school nationals were that weekend. I finished practice that night crying the whole time," Rousey revealed. "Then the next day we were at Ogden's Judo, and I had another coach look at my knee and he looked it and convinced my mom to take me to the doctor and he was like 'You're ACL is not there any more, there is no ACL.' "
Surgery followed and for the next few months Rousey was nursing a knee injury similar to the ones experienced by former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and Irish fighter Conor McGregor. The only difference with Rousey's knee injury was her rehabilitation didn't take place in a state of the art facility with million-dollar machines helping her rebuild the knee.
Instead, Rousey's recovery took place on the Judo mats with some extra help from future Ultimate Fighter winner Manny Gamburyan. Rousey's mother was also omnipresent to make sure her daughter was putting in all the work necessary to stay in shape -- even if she was doing it with one leg.
The constant drilling on the mat while she couldn't put weight on her knee is also a big reason why Rousey got so good with her scrambles, exchanges and submissions. So the next time a UFC women's bantamweight taps out because their arm is extended with Rousey wrenching on the joints like a mechanic, the power and technique all comes from her training while not being able to stand due to a knee injury.
"I was still biking everywhere all the time. My mom had me on the mat doing pushups like two weeks after knee reconstruction. She had me do all mat work for a whole year," Rousey said.
"That's why my armbar is so good. We'd call it 'Ronda's happy corner mat work' 'cause everyone would be doing standing judo, and I'd have the corner. I'd sit on the ground and the odd person out would come roll with me. Then Manny (Gamburyan) would go and open Hayastan (grappling) every day and he was going to do it for free but my mom made him take like $35 a day for gas and Manny would drive up in his parents minivan, open up Hayastan, and he would drill all these throws with me that didn't require my right leg at all."
The recovery time overall is still fairly ridiculous by all athletic standards considering Rousey had surgery in April and by October she was ranked No. 1 in the country in Judo.
Her meteoric rise in the Judo ranks culminated in a bronze medal in the Olympics and from there Rousey's career started in MMA. Now she's the top women's fighter in the sport and arguably the biggest star on the UFC roster.
Part of Rousey's appeal outside the cage is her brutal honesty and ability to create rivalries with virtually every opponent she faces. UFC president Dana White likes to call her the 'female Diaz brother' because she's ferocious both inside and outside the Octagon.
While some might call Rousey's pre-fight hype 'trash talk', she actually looks at it as motivation. It was a similar situation to the one Phil Davis faced at UFC 172 when he spent the entire week leading up to his fight going after light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, despite the fact that he was fighting Anthony Johnson. Davis ended up losing in a one-sided decision, but Rousey says the former NCAA champion did exactly what he should have done in building up to the fight.
She does the exact same thing every time she prepares for an opponent as well.
"I purposefully try to paint myself into a corner. I see all these people, beforehand, they give themselves an exit strategy in their comments so if they lose they won't look like that big of a dumbass," Rousey said. "I feel like that's preparing for failure. If you don't leave yourself that space, it's a lot less likely (you'll fail). That's why it takes balls, there's a risk."
Being strong willed and unafraid to push the envelope is one reason why Rousey was actually really happy with another women's fighter last Saturday night at UFC 172 despite the fact that the trash talk was aimed directly at her and her fight camp.
Bethe Correia defeated Rousey's training partner Jessamyn Duke by decision and following the win she motioned to her opponent's corner while holding up four fingers before lowering a single digit as if to say 'one down, three to go'. The reference was made in part due to Rousey's team being made up of herself, Duke, Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir. The group combined calls themselves 'The Four Horsewomen' -- a play on words from the classic pro wrestling faction called 'The Four Horsemen.'
Correia's call-out was talked about non-stop after the show, and while Rousey was obviously upset her teammate fell to defeat, she was ultra excited to see another women's fighter take up the cause and help hype a future fight.
"That's what they needed to do. The girls are f--king taking a cue by getting people interested. Now Shayna (Baszler) called this girl out and I think Shayna's going to be fighting her next. This is like a perfect WWE storyline," Rousey said. "She puts up her four fingers and puts down her one finger and makes three, Shayna wants to fight her next. Now this chick's undefeated, Shayna wants to fight her in her UFC debut. It's either going to be a huge win for Shayna or this girl's still going to be undefeated and I'm going to have a huge title fight cause this girl's going to have fought both of my girls and she's coming after me.
"That's a storyline. That's Shayna's story right now. Either she beats her and moves on to be a bigger name or it moves on to be my storyline. I'm 100 percent behind Shayna, I think Shayna can handle it, and Shayna will shove this s--t in that girl's face. But there's really no lose."
Tune into the rest of the podcast to hear Rousey discuss her training methods, 'haters' on Twitter and much more.