There aren’t too many fighters in the world who haven’t lost at some point in their careers. Even the greatest fighters of all time like Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko experienced the agony of defeat.
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has no plans to join them while she’s still competing, as she wants to remain unbeaten until the day she retires.
Rousey believes she can get it done because her motivation to win is driven by a desire to never lose again.
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"Have you ever lost in the Olympics? I would rather die than lose and I know that feeling so well," Rousey said when speaking on the Jim Rome show on Showtime this week. "It’s not that I’ve never lost, it’s that I’ve lost at the worst times so I know what a loss is. That’s why I want to win so much more than these other girls.
"My mom was the world champion in Judo and she was the first American to ever do it and I had my shot to be like my mom and win the world championships in Judo and I lost. It feels like dying to me. I’d rather die."
I would rather die than lose and I know that feeling so well. It’s not that I’ve never lost, it’s that I’ve lost at the worst times so I know what a loss is. That’s why I want to win so much more than these other girls
— Ronda Rousey
Losing in Judo was something Rousey faced often during her many years in the sport, but luckily it was also the fuel that inspired her to pursue MMA. While Judo is a martial arts competition, it’s not a fight and there wasn’t a single time during her career when Rousey lost and didn’t feel like punching the other girl in the face to prove who was really better.
Obviously she never actually tried to do that during her Judo career, so she opted for a sport that encourages punching instead.
"I did all my losing in Judo when I was coming up, which is a lot of the reason why I wanted to do MMA so much because there was times when I was doing Judo and I was like no one ever beat me in a Judo match that I couldn’t beat in a fight," Rousey said. "It would always be a points thing or something like that. No one would ever really beat me. I would always think to myself if this was a real fight, I would f–king kill you! Then now, I’m in a situation where it’s a real fight and I realize that is true.
"It was a true statement I was making to myself. If it was a real fight, I would beat all these girls."
Rousey further explained her philosophy when talking about her fight with Liz Carmouche, which served as her UFC debut in 2013. Before pulling off the armbar finish in the latter part of the first round, Rousey found herself in a dicey situation with Carmouche on her back looking for a fight-ending rear naked choke.
In that moment, Rousey knew if the choice was losing or death, she’d let her neck snap like something out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
"Oh yeah with Liz Carmouche, I thought I could die," Rousey explained. "I blocked (her) choke and so she turned it into a neck crank and I felt my jaw dislocate and I was thinking I would rather break my neck than lose this fight."
Rousey plans on carrying that same win-or-die attitude into all of her fights, including the next bout on her calendar — a showdown with undefeated contender Cat Zingano rumored for early 2015.
When the odds are made for that fight, Rousey will likely be an overwhelming favorite just like her last bout where she annihilated Alexis Davis in only 16 seconds. During her 10-fight career, Rousey has only been taken to the second round once, during a rematch with Miesha Tate last year.
The result was the same as all the others and Rousey expects to do the same to Zingano.
"All of the ones they bring to me are legitimate challenges," Rousey said about her opponents in the UFC. "I work and prepare so hard that there’s nothing they can do about it."