When Ronda Rousey first signed with the UFC in late 2012 after exiting Strikeforce, the women’s division was being added to the promotion primarily based on the strength of her previous fights.
UFC president Dana White famously said in the years before Rousey’s arrival that women would never compete inside the Octagon, but fast forward three years later and now she’s the biggest star MMA has ever seen.
Even Rousey admits in the beginning it was tough because the future of women’s MMA rested on her shoulders, so she had to be impressive just to prove she belonged there in the first place. Now she’s making more money than anybody else in the UFC and it’s taken her less than three years to achieve it all.
Article continues below ...
"It’s really encouraging," Rousey said during an appearance on "First Take" on ESPN. "It was something I really worried about in the beginning that it wasn’t just to get into the UFC, but it was to get into the UFC and perform. It was an experiment in the beginning and I just wanted to do well enough just to hang in there so I could justify even having a job."
Rousey will headline UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, a card that is expected to break the UFC all-time attendance record of over 55,000 set at UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields.
In addition to that accolade being added to her resume, Rousey has already taken part in the biggest pay-per-view card of the year when she knocked out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds during her last fight at UFC 190 in August.
On top of all that, Rousey has also started a burgeoning film career where she’s been part of a billion-dollar franchise with a role in "Furious 7" as well as landing the lead in an upcoming biopic based on her own autobiography, “My Fight/Your Fight”.
Considering the achievements Rousey has already attained, she admits that the bar has to be set even higher now for what she has left to do inside and outside the sport.
"Now it’s gotten to the point where I thought I was dreaming ridiculously big before, but now we’re having to get creative," Rousey said.
With all her recent success, including her work in films and running roughshod over the women she faces in the UFC, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that Rousey might be losing her steam when it comes to fighting inside the Octagon.
Rousey is the most recognizable name in the sport, but she’s crossed over into the mainstream so much now that she could easily stay relevant with film and TV work and never have to punch another person for the rest of her life.
But Rousey says her excitement about doing MMA is even bigger now than when she first started. The stakes are higher and that gets Rousey’s blood pumping like nothing else in the world.
"I get more and more excited for every fight because there’s more on the line for every single fight," Rousey said. "I have more to lose every single fight. It’s not about the individual fights anymore. I’m thinking about everything as a whole and really having a legacy. I want to be the one that retires undefeated and every single one of these matches, it’s one step along the way.
"It’s not like I have to amp myself up for one person or another. I’m so amped up to really attain this goal that very precious few people have been able to get that, I don’t even know why people even ask me how do you get motivated? I am motivated like I am blonde."