She laughs, but unlike what many would assume, winning an Olympic medal doesn’t guarantee you anything once the cheers have died down. For Rousey, there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and it makes you think of Cuban Olympic Gold medal winning boxer Joel Casamayor, who received a bike for winning his medal. He sold it so his family could eat.
So Rousey, for all the photo shoots and media exposure these days, didn’t get handed anything on the way to her first title defense this Saturday night in Anaheim against Liz Carmouche. That doesn’t mean there won’t be little jabs and ignorant comments along the way, like the one she received during the lead-up to the UFC 157 main event.
“There was one interview where a guy said that I don’t act like a lady,” said Rousey, who proceeded to point out that due to a certain body part, she was more of an authority to speak on what a lady really is than her interviewer was. That pretty much shut down that line of questioning.
“I doubt that will ever show up anywhere,” she laughs. It’s the laugh of an athlete who passed right by the rising star designation and into full-fledged stardom in the space of a few well-placed armbars. Rousey’s ascension was unlike anything seen in MMA in a long time, if ever, and no one was more surprised than the fighter herself.
“I was a little surprised,” she said. “I thought that after the Cyborg (Santos) fight would be when things would be getting that nuts, so I was a little surprised that it started as early as the day after the Miesha (Tate) fight.”
She shouldn’t be. After a lengthy lead-up to the fight, Rousey dazzled against the then-Strikeforce bantamweight champion, submitting the gutsy Tate with an armbar that was hard to watch for its brutal finality. And by the time Rousey left Columbus, Ohio in March 2012, a star was born, and everyone wanted to talk to and learn about “Rowdy” Ronda.
That type of demand can do a couple things. It can make a fighter start to believe her press clippings, it can make her neglect the hard work that got her there, or in Rousey’s case, it could force her to schedule, prioritize, and deal with life in the spotlight while still finding the time to hit the gym just as hard, if not harder, than before.