UFC legend Ronda Rousey cared more about being bantamweight champion ‘than anybody ever has’

UFC legend Ronda Rousey cared more about being bantamweight champion 'than anybody ever has'

Ronda Rousey’s drive to be the best was drilled into her at a very early age.

As a child, Rousey dreamed of being an all-star swimmer before inevitably following in her mother’s footsteps, becoming one of the best judokas in the world and capturing a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. For many, earning an Olympic medal is the culmination of a lifelong dream. But for Rousey, it was only the beginning.

Ronda Rousey

Making the move to MMA, ‘Rowdy’ would see her star rise practically overnight. Collecting arms and a world title under the Strikeforce banner, Rousey paved the way for women to compete in the UFC, becoming the promotion’s first-ever female champion.

She would go on to defend the women’s bantamweight belt an impressive six times with every one of her victories coming by way of a finish.

Ronda Rousey

But as they say; the faster the rise, the harder the fall.

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It all came crashing down for Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 when she stepped inside the Octagon for a main event clash with Holly Holm. 59 seconds into the second round, Rousey’s reign came to an end courtesy of a perfectly placed head kick.

Ronda Rousey vs. Holm

“I cared about that title more than anybody ever has,” Rousey said at a Q&A during her recent book tour. “It hurt me more than anybody that’s ever been hurt by losing it. That’s why I was able to defend so much for so long” (h/t MMA Fighting).

Ronda Rousey put everything into her UFC career knowing heartbreak could rear its ugly head

In the back of her mind, Rousey always knew that losing was a possibility. Still, that never once stopped her from putting everything she had into being the absolute best.

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‘Rowdy’ also recognizes that it’s difficult for people on the outside looking in to truly understand the heartbreak she suffered that night — in particular, those who tend to shield themselves from devastation instead of riding into the fire and accepting whatever fate awaits them.

“It’s hard for a lot of people to understand, to have something mean that much to you,” Rousey said. “It’s like, ‘Why are you so upset? It’s just a fight.’ Well, it’s just somebody else’s fight to you, but I think one thing that’s really important if you’re going to be a fighter at an extremely high level, or an athlete, or someone who runs a business, or anything like that, you have to be willing to get your heart broken in order to put every fiber of your being into something.

“You’re going to know whether everything you have is good enough. I think that a lot of people have this tendency to preserve themselves and not put everything out there, and when it doesn’t work out, you’re like, ‘Well, it wasn’t everything I had, I could have done it if I gave it everything I had.’”

There’s no doubt that Ronda Rousey cared. Perhaps too much at times, but that care drove her to an Olympic medal. Then it drove her to become a successful mixed martial artist. Then a pioneer. Today, she’s a legend and it’s all because she cared more than the next person.

“It’s because I care that much,” Rousey said. “Caring more than the other person. Caring more than anybody else is an advantage, but it will be what comes back to bite you if it doesn’t work out.”