Ronda Rousey Opens Up on TUF 18, Pressure, Training and Cyborg Santos

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 26, 2013

Ronda Rousey is a superstar. Her UFC debut was a resounding success for her, women in MMA and the UFC as a whole.

She is 7-0 as a professional MMA fighter, but even more than that, her skills, good looks and spunk have vaulted her to celebrity status. Fresh off her historic match with Liz Carmouche, Rousey isn't slowing down, though.

She's been named one of the coaches for the upcoming season of the The Ultimate Fighter 18, and she'll likely take on the winner of the Miesha Tate-Cat Zingano bout, as either Tate or Zingano is set to be the other coach in the house for TUF 18, per Yahoo! Sports.

Those two didn't waste time talking a little trash about Rousey after her win over Carmouche.

With all that going on, Rousey was nice enough to take some time to talk to me about TUF 18, her training, struggles and Cris "Cyborg" Santos.

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Brian Mazique: I have to ask you about your participation with TUF 18, as again you're breaking new ground by being the first female coach on the show. Can you tell us what we can expect for you as a coach?

Ronda Rousey: I don't really know, there's a lot of unknowns coming in. I've coached doing judo before, but I've never coached MMA. I'll have my own coach with me to help me along the way and I can't really fail with him by my side, but I'm a little nervous.

As an athlete you're taught to be selfish. When I'm training, it's usually all about me, but now I'll have to be a little selfless because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of these kids, so I can't spend that time and that opportunity just focused on myself. It'll be new to put other fighters' needs in front of my own.

BM: That's interesting because this is quite an adjustment for a fighter asked to take on that responsibility. All of you are in an individual sport, so I know that has to be a little tough.

I mentioned you being the first female coach on TUF. Do you ever get tired of all the "first female this, the first female that" talk?

RR: Do I ever get tired of being the first female everything? Not really, I just happened to be in a position where the job that I wanted was not really there for me. I had to create an opportunity instead of waiting for an opportunity.

Whenever people call me the first female this or that, it doesn't make it more special because no one in front of me wanted the same job. I've always wanted weird stuff and enjoyed things differently than other girls.

That I happened to fall into a career that no other girls wanted isn't surprising to me. I wanted something that didn't exist, so I had to create it.

I try not to think about it. I try not to get caught up on how cool I am. That way nothing ever gets done. I'm always thinking about what I haven't done.

BM: It sounds like that approach can help you deflect the pressure from the outside.

RR: I put a ton of pressure on myself. Eddie Murphy said you can't let the good things people say make you feel too good, because you're going to let the bad things make you feel bad.

I've been doing this for a long time. My mom has been jumping on me doing armbars since before I was a teenager, so everyone is walking around saying this is so new and amazing, but it's not.

I don't want to sound like I'm not grateful; I am. But I'm not shocked.

BM: Most successful people aren't shocked with their success because part of being successful is working hard and expecting to succeed.

But I wrote an article before the Carmouche fight in which I talked about how much pressure it seems is on your shoulders considering most MMA fans associate women in MMA with you.

That may be unfair, but if you were to lose early in your career, it would be a big blow to the sport. Do you acknowledge that, and if so, how does that make you feel?

RR: Yeah, I acknowledge that I have a lot of responsibility, but I think that's part of what makes TUF 18 such a great idea.

It's going to bring a lot of other women visibility and have the fans get to know them so I don't have the lion's share of the marketing anymore.

I want women's MMA to thrive and be here to stay. I don't want it to be dependent on one person. You don't hear about if Anderson Silva loses they may get rid of his entire division.

You know, that's not something anyone even talks about. That's how I want women's MMA to be. I want it to be where if I retire, fans will be like, "Whatever, we have several other people coming up that we know."

This TUF is the perfect way to address that issue and take a lot of the load off of my shoulders and share it with the other girls that not only need it, but they want it and are willing to fight for it.

BM: I've actually made the analogy—and you tell me if you agree with this—I compare you a bit to Royce Gracie.

For a lot of people who were just getting into MMA back in 1993, their first indoctrination to the sport was based on Gracie's dominance. I think you're having a similar impact on women's MMA.

Do you consider that a fair comparison?

RR: I don't think I would ever compare myself to Royce Gracie because I hold him in such high regard. I felt nervous sitting next to him at an event. Your Royce Gracie is like my Fedor Emelianenko. He's like perfect in my eyes.

But I guess it makes sense because you have no idea how many times people say, "You're the only reason I watch MMA."

It's like 70-year-old ladies and even guys are like, "You're the only MMA fighter I watch. Even boxing fans are like, "You're my only favorite MMA fighter, and I hate MMA."

I think that's fantastic and it's an honor to be in the same sentence as those guys.

BM: I think often times "hardcore MMA" fans say, "This is what an MMA fan looks like," or "This is what a boxing fan looks like." It really shouldn't be that way.

To shift gears a little bit, I talked to Leo Frincu and he talked about his time with you. I'm sure you know he has a book out and he talks about his high-performance mentality approach to training. Can you tell me how he helped you?

RR: Sure, MMA is tough, man. There were times when I didn't have any funding and I was broke. Leo helped me kinda stay grounded.

In the beginning, I had this resolve and I was like, "I do not give a f--k, this is going to f-----g happen, and no one is going to stop me." But having someone like Leo to reassure me that says, "Yes, you can do this," really helped my confidence a lot.

I mean, there were times that I worked the graveyard shift all Sunday night. I'd sleep for two hours and I'd then go to Leo to train.

One morning I went to McDonald's and wanted a coffee, but after I ordered it I realized I didn't have any money and my account was overdrawn. The lady wouldn't give me the coffee, so I just went to the gym and I was just so tired, broke and dejected.

Leo is one of those people that can always tell how you feel. He sensed it and sat me down to motivate me. He always seems to know exactly what I need to hear and when I need to hear it.

We talked a lot about manifestation and the mental training. What makes the difference is how you approach it, and Leo is an expert at that.

BM: Shifting gears a bit, and I'm sure this comes up in almost every interview you do, but I have to ask you: We did an interview with Cris "Cyborg" Santos and she made some interesting comments.

She claims that while both of you were in Strikeforce, she asked Sean Shelby [the matchmaker at Strikeforce] for a fight with you, but he told her no because you weren't ready.

Is there any truth to that?

RR: The only time I was offered a fight with Cris Cyborg was before I had my first amateur fight. I got a call saying they couldn't find any opponents for Cyborg, do you want that fight?

I'm like, "I haven't even had my first amateur fight, what's wrong with you people?"

That's the only time I've ever heard of it when we were both at Strikeforce. 

After the Julia Budd fight, I told Sean, Miesha [Tate] hit me up on Twitter and said she was down to fight me, so after this fight I'm going to call Miesha out. I did that and it worked out really well.

Nobody approached me about Cris at all in Strikeforce, but then after the Julia Budd fight, Cris was caught taking Stanozolol, or whatever steroid it was.

It's all bulls--t.

I mean, you can even listen to Mike Dolce's testimony (BJPenn.com). They told her they could bring her to her athletic potential at 135 [pounds] and the UFC was going to pay for it.

Everyone was down, but as soon as she switched management it never happened.

I'm kinda talking in circles about this chick. Really, I'm not concerned with her. I have so many things going on and she has nothing going on but me. So I'm going to do this season of TUF and have this fight.

If she ever has enough sense to say, "I'm going to go for the only belt that really matters, or else I'm going to pretty much keep fighting on the Internet and fading into obscurity," she can come and fight me.

But there are a lot of girls that deserve that shot that haven't cheated. I'm not going to go chasing after Cyborg, she's going to have to come to me.

BM: You're definitely in the position of power right now. It actually kind of goes back to something you said earlier: It's going to give notoriety to someone else that is already associated with the UFC.

Maybe at that point, it can generate another name to discuss.

RR: She hasn't had a recorded win in three years. Why are we even talking about this chick? She's a f-----g cheater.

Imagine if this happened to one of the guys. Imagine that Jose Aldo got caught for steroids. I'm not saying that he is; this is purely hypothetical.

But imagine that he didn't have a recorded win for three years and then he tells the f-----g division champion that he should f-----g come up in weight to fight him. They would think he's out of his mind.

It's like, dude, make the weight, fight your way up like everybody else. Where is this sense of entitlement coming from?

Cris has like an unbelievable sense of entitlement. She comes to the fight seven pounds overweight, she cheats, uses steroids and does these things repeatedly, but somehow thinks that everyone should bend over backwards for her.

Sorry, we're not going to do that. We do have some morality. We're going to give the fights to the girls that fight with some honor.

BM: The UFC did recently sign a group of women to compete in the division. Is there someone currently signed that you see that could create an exciting bout for you and the fans?

RR: The Cat Zingano-Miesha Tate fight will be exciting, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how Sara McMann does.

She's undefeated and an Olympic medalist in wrestling and we started MMA around the same time. We have a lot of similarities.

She hasn't really been my biggest fan up to this point, so it might be interesting in the build-up for that fight. She's the Olympic medalist, single mom, super sweetheart, Miss America. 

I kind of like to think of myself as the bad girl Olympian that would get kicked out of the Miss America pageant.

BM: I think the bout with Miesha and the bout with Carmouche was impressive. Though the armbar came, it didn't come easily, so the toughness and resolve you had to show was impressive.

The fight with Miesha was entertaining, so I'd like to see that one again.

RR: Yes, and I know a lot of people are pulling for Miesha to be the other coach in the TUF house, because me and her have never shied away from arguing before.

But Cat's not only undefeated and skilled, she's also very cute.

Besides that, I don't know a whole bunch about her. I think it would be great for the fans to be exposed to another personality besides just Miesha again.

But besides that I'm totally open. May the best girl win.

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