Acting on Back Burner for Ronda Rousey Ahead of UFC 170 Title Defense

By Carlos Arias Feb 11, 2014
Ronda Rousey will defend her title at UFC 170 on Feb. 22. | Photo: Dave Mandel/

GLENDALE, Calif. -- These are very exciting times for Ronda Rousey.

She will make the second defense of her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title against Sara McMann in the UFC 170 main event on Feb. 22 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. She filmed “Expendables 3” and “Fast and Furious 7” last year, and her work on the two films, which have not been released yet, was enough to land her two more movie roles.

The big question on the minds of hardcore MMA fans: What does all this movie talk mean for her career as a prizefighter?

“I’m a fighter and I enjoy fighting,” Rousey said during an open workout on Monday at Glendale Fighting Club. “I was doing judo for a decade and a half for pretty much no money. If money was something that was really important to me, I might be a stockbroker right now. I just want to have enough money to do what I enjoy for a living. Right now, the main thing that I enjoy is fighting. I enjoy it more I think if I do it in more of a cyclical fashion, being able to focus on fighting for a while. I have these two fights back-to-back, and it takes a lot of attention and energy.

“It would be nice to do something a little different and miss it,” she added. “Then by the time I go do some movie stuff, I’ll be like, ‘This is cool and all, but I’m tired of getting my makeup done every day and they’re destroying my hair. I really just want to get in the gym. I’m tired of being in a NASCAR pit just standing there and people are poking me all over the place. I want to grunge out and not care what I look like.’ They both make me miss the other. I feel like they both make me better at the other.”

Rousey will begin filming the “Entourage” movie in March. She also has one of the lead roles in “The Athena Project,” which has the potential to become a major action movie franchise.

“Honestly, right now, I don’t want to get too much into it,” Rousey said of her acting plans. “It’s just I want to keep my focus on the fight. I’m extremely excited about it, but I just don’t think it’s good for my health to really be getting into the movies right now. I need to focus on the fight and that’s the most important to me. I really feel my life is on the line every single time I am out there. Anything that would distract me from that, no matter how cool and amazing it is, I just can’t afford to give it that much attention right now.”

Rousey’s trainer, Edmond Tarverdyan, said she is doing fine balancing her fighting career with acting.

“It's cool. I like it. She gets excited [about acting],” Tarverdyan said, “but when it’s camp time, we don’t talk about it. Brad Slater, her agent, is great. We work together. We understand that it’s time for her to fight right now, so we don’t even put our thoughts into movies. Afterwards, let her do what she wants. She’s going to have some time off.”

Rousey was not happy with the way she was portrayed during her stint as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter 18,” but there was one major positive that came out of the experience. Rousey became close with Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, who were all part of Team Rousey. Baszler, a big pro wrestling fan, has dubbed the group “The Four Horsemen.” They all live and train together.

“I never had any girls that I can relate to,” Rousey said. “At the time I was like, ‘What mid-20s girl has anything in common with me?’ I would be annoyed with them in 10 minutes. This is actually the first time I’ve had a group of girlfriends where we all get each other. We have the same sense of humor. The same things are important to us. We really lucked out. The team dynamic is just amazing, and it helps all of us.”

When Rousey meets McMann inside the Octagon, it will be the first time two Olympic medalists have squared off against each other in UFC history. Rousey won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and McMann was a silver medalist in wrestling at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

“I tell people all the time, a UFC title doesn’t really compare that much to the Olympics because they have new title fights all the time, but the Olympics could be one day in your life,” Rousey said. “There’s no amount of pressure that can ever compare to that. What it takes mentally to get through that is ... I don’t think you can re-create that in any other environment, so I expect her to be ready to go when it comes to the day of the fight.”

Rousey believes her judo-based style of fighting is much more difficult for her opponents to prepare for.

“My style of judo was always really different,” Rousey said. “That’s why I was always successful despite being from the U.S., where we traditionally don’t really have good results. I was always extremely unorthodox, so even if they found a real high-quality judo player, they would probably fight nothing like me. So that’s why a lot of these girls have difficulty fighting me. I’m extremely difficult to prepare for because my mom was so intelligent when she started having me train. From when I was like 11 to 16 and I was training in L.A., my mom would take me to four or five different clubs per week, just to get a different style of judo every day. So I would develop defenses and a high-risk style that would be very hard to train for.”


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