Ronda Rousey will soon be going from professional ass-kicker to fictional one through a series of film roles that will have her traversing the worlds of sports and Hollywood. The UFC women’s bantamweight champ has already filmed a role in The Expendables 3, and “Fast and Furious 7,” and will soon take a place before the camera for an “Entourage” movie and then take her first starring spot in “Athena Project.”
That ambitious schedule has caused panic attacks from some of the sport’s observers, who feel that the offers will soon lure her away for good. In some ways, that reaction is to be expected. After all, in the late 2000s, women’s MMA appeared to have a transcendent star in Gina Carano. But Carano stepped away to film her first Hollywood project in 2009 and never returned.
For whatever it’s worth, Rousey doesn’t envision that type of career arc for herself. In fact, in an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder kind of way, she believes that her moonlighting gigs as an actor will always send her running back to MMA, and even make her better at it.
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Being able to focus on fighting for a while, and now I’m having these two fights back-to-back, it takes a lot of attention, a lot of energy. It will be nice to do something different and miss it.
"I’m a fighter,” Rousey said at a media luncheon to publicize her upcoming UFC 170 match with Sara McMann. “I enjoy fighting and I was doing judo for a decade and a half for pretty much no money. If money was really what was important for me I might be a stockbroker right now. I just want to have enough money to be able to do what I enjoy for a living. And right now the main thing that I enjoy is fighting, and I enjoy it more if I get to do it in more of cyclical fashion. Being able to focus on fighting for a while, and now I’m having these two fights back-to-back, it takes a lot of attention, a lot of energy. It will be nice to do something different and miss it.
“So by the time I go and do some movie stuff,” she continued, “then I will be kind of like, ‘Oh my God, this is cool and all, but I’m tired of getting my makeup done everyday and they’re destroying my hair. I really just want to get into the gym. I’m tired of being in a NASCAR pit where I’m standing there and people are poking me all over the place. I want to grunge out, and not worry about what I look like and just be a bum in a gym.’ They both make me miss the other and I feel like they both make me better at the other.”
That should help allay the fears of many, who feel at 27, Rousey has yet to reach her peak as an active competitor. The California native is a perfect 8-0 and has only been past the first round a single time in her career.
It works out better for me when people assume that my striking is complete garbage because these are things they don’t prepare for at all, because it helps me out when people underestimate me.
In her last fight, Rousey proved that she could thrive in the later rounds, dominating Miesha Tate en route to an armbar victory. Now that the question has been answered, some will question whether she’s completely focused on the match at hand with so much other business swirling around her.
But Rousey believes that one by one, she’s losing the advantage of people not quite knowing where her mind is at, or where her skills might fall off. Now toeing the line between Hollywood and the octagon, there might be one thing left to doubt, and she loves it.
“It works out better for me when people assume that I’m going to be worst as the rounds go on. It works out better for me when people assume that I’m terrible on my back. It works out better for me when people assume that my striking is complete garbage because these are things they don’t prepare for at all, because it helps me out when people underestimate me,” she said. “So I hope they find reasons to still underestimate me in some areas.”