Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern
After winning the bronze medal in Judo at Beijing in 2008, Ronda Rousey was in the mood for a change. Following the lead of former fighters, she decided to enter the world of women’s MMA – mixed martial arts. Now, nearly two years in the profession, Rousey remains undefeated and graces the 2012 cover of ESPN’s The Body Issue. Craving to know more about the girl inside the ring, we got the inside scoop about her intense training schedule and how she feels about posing nude for the media.
What made you switch from judo to MMA?
After winning bronze at the Olympics, I wasn’t happy with the lifestyle required to be the best. But I didn’t know what to do with myself. I thought about joining the Coast Guard, but I had a bunch of friends who transitioned from Judo to MMA. I thought I’d give it a try. If it didn’t work out, I’d join the Coast Guard. But it’s gone beyond my wildest expectations.
How grueling is training right now?
Overall, I really only rest about two or three weeks throughout the year. The rest of the time I’m working. But the anticipation for the fight can actually be more insane. I love the training and fighting, but waiting for it to happen makes me crazy! When they build up something in the press, it can just be mentally exhausting, waiting for that moment to finally be here.
What is your typical workout?
For MMA, you have to be good at so many different techniques: technical striking, Judo, wrestling, grappling, strength conditioning, Pilates and even training on sand dune hills. The coolest part of my training is that I get to change it around based on how I feel. That’s the difference between MMA and Judo – I’m not on a monotonous training schedule. Every day is cool and interesting, so I never dread going to practice.
Your abs (among other things) are seriously lust-worthy. Is it genetics, or is there hope for the rest of us?
My abs never used to be like this until I started doing MMA. When you do one sport, you’re specialized. But now all those tiny muscles show up because I’m doing so much. The variety really helps.
What do you think it means to be strong?
It means not having any fear. I was always brought up to be confident, full of ambition, without fear. I was taught to do whatever you want to do, just be the best in the world at it. My mom always said, “You need to leave the world better than how you found it. It’s your duty to have ambition and passion and go after something.” She didn’t push us to be a doctor or a lawyer, she just wanted us to be successful.
You cover The Body Issue of ESPN Magazine. Did you have any reservations about the shoot?
It was a little nerve-wracking. If you take nude photos, you have to explain them to your kids someday, so it’s something I want to be proud of. The Body Issue is all about the limits of the human body, and I’d be proud to show my children that.
Want to see Rousey in action? Tune into her next fight, August 18, on Showtime.
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