Long before Ronda Rousey was considered one of the biggest stars in all of mixed martial arts, she was competing on the international judo circuit across the world.
During the prime part of her career, Rousey was considered one of the best judokas on the planet and she proved that with a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. While Rousey didn't face defeat very often on the mats in judo, Swiss grappler Stephanie Egger was one of the few people who handed her a loss.
“A long time ago, I think 10 years almost,” Egger told FOX Sports when recalling her matches with Rousey. “We fought twice. I beat her once and she beat me once.”
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At the time, Rousey was nothing more than a competitor standing in Egger's way, but she couldn't have imagined that just a few years later, she'd be watching a transcendent superstar who changed the face of women's MMA forever.
Rousey not only made the successful transition from judo to MMA, but she helped bring women to the UFC while becoming a six-time defending champion. Seeing Rousey's success helped inspire Egger to make her own move to MMA after doing judo from the time she was just five years old.
“I watched her fight of course. I think she does a great job in MMA,” Egger said about Rousey. “In sports, she's an inspiration for me. I watch her and I think OK, I will try, too. I saw her and I thought I would try. Maybe it's a good idea to do the same. Not the same as her, but in my own way.”
Thus far, Egger seems to be following in Rousey's footsteps rather well.
She's currently 2-0 as a professional fighter with both victories coming in the first round. On Friday night, Egger makes her debut in Invicta FC with her debut bout airing live on UFC Fight Pass.
A move to Invicta seemed like a natural choice for Eggar, who hopes to make a big impact with her debut while serving notice to the bantamweight division that a new contender has arrived.
“My first two fights were both first round finishes. I like to learn new things and I like boxing so it's a challenge for me to learn boxing, jiu-jitsu, and everything and I want to fight in the stand up and on the ground. I try to be better everyday. It's fun,” Egger said.
“It's my first fight in Invicta so I'll just focus on this fight and then I will see what happens next. For now, I'll stay focused on the fight and we'll see. At bantamweight, they have a lot of different girls and it's very interesting.”
Obviously at this point, Egger is blazing her own path as she makes her first appearance in Invicta as well as her first fight in the United States.
Long term, Egger hopes to find the same kind of success that Rousey did while competing in Strikeforce before eventually making her way to the UFC. The best way for Egger to make a similar impression is to tear through her opponent Alexa Conners on Friday night and hopefully add yet another first round finish to her resume.
“I hope so. I will try to finish her fast,” Egger said. “I will do my best for it to happen in a first round finish.”