Later this evening, Ronda Rousey will enter the Octagon in Brazil when she faces off against Bethe Correia in the headlining fight for UFC 190. Should she win, it will be her seventh time defending her title. In the lead-up to tonight's card, Rousey has been on a whirlwind press tour, hitting all the major media outlets in typical fashion.
A few days ago, the Three Amigos Podcast interviewed Ronda's mother, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, who gives advice to parents raising athletes, discussed domestic violence issues in MMA, lines one shouldn't cross when "selling" a fight, what Ronda was like growing up and more. Here's what she had to say:
TAP: Your relationship with Ronda, and all your daughters is extremely close. That was very clearly on display when Ronda directed her ESPY awards speech to you. If you could give advice to mothers raising female athletes (or athletes in general male or female), what would it be?
Dr. De Mars: Jim Pedro, Sr. gave me really great advice. I ran into him when Ronda was a white belt. She'd just started judo, and his son Jimmy Jr. hadn't won the World's yet. I said to him, ‘I heard your son is doing really well. Could you give me any advice on coaching your own kid? My daughter just started judo, and I really think she's going to be good.'
Jimmy said to me, "Always ask yourself, ‘Are you doing this for you or for your kid? If you can honestly answer that you're doing it for your kid, you won't go wrong.'"
I think that's pretty brilliant advice, because a lot of times when I look at people, I think, ‘You're doing that for you.' There are some idiot people out there that are like, ‘You're trying to live through your daughter.' I've got my world championship medal, and then I went on and got a Ph.D. and started a company.
Do they really think it's going to benefit my company for me taking off to go watch her at practice, nag her about doing armbars, etc. It's not selling games for me. It's not writing software for me. Even to this day, it takes time and money away from my company, but your children are more important than your company.
There's a flip side to that, because I see a lot of entitled little jerks. I hate those Disney movies where they show the kid scoring the winning goal in a soccer game, and the mom's not there because she's on her cell phone making some business deal. I always say, ‘You know that kid can only afford to go to that goddamned soccer camp because his mom's got that job!'
I think it's not bad for your children to realize that the world doesn't center around them. They are the most important thing in your world, but they're not your whole world.
TAP: Ronda thanked you in her ESPY speech for putting up with so much throughout the years. What kind of shenanigans was she prone to that drove you nuts?
Dr. De Mars: Oh my God, you just don't even know [laughs]. Her and her sisters fought constantly. In fact, Maria and Jennifer joke that they're the only women in the world who can lay claim to have beaten up Ronda multiple times.
They would fight over everything; who got the prize in the cereal box, and then Ronda would cry, because she cries over everything. That doesn't bother me because I'm so used to it, but she would be crying and punching them, and then they'd be in this fist fight in the living room.
When I first got married, my husband had never been married, never had children and he was 42 years old. I had to go out of town on a business trip, so I told Maria, the oldest one, ‘Do not fight with your sisters, and you help Dennis because this is new to him and there are three of you. Do not fight with your sisters.' So, I call up and say, ‘How are things?' Dennis was just at a loss for words. He says, ‘Well, they all got into a fist fight at the kitchen table.'
For whatever reason, Maria got up in Ronda's face and was saying something that Ronda didn't like. One of them, I think it was Ronda, spit in her face. So Maria slapped Ronda and they all got into a fist fight, and then Jennifer—I don't know why she jumped in—and I told him, you get each one of those kids on the phone. I yelled at Maria and told her, ‘You are going to be grounded until the sun doesn't shine. You'll be lucky if you're ungrounded by the time you graduate high school. I specifically told you not to fist fight with your sisters.'
I grounded Ronda too, and then she starts arguing with me, ‘I shouldn't be grounded because you didn't specifically tell me not to spit in Maria's face.' So yes, there was lots and lots of stuff they did.
TAP: How much damage did Ronda and her sisters do to the house? How often did you have to replace dishes or furniture?
Dr. De Mars: All the time [laughs]. Not dishes so much. They were wise, and knew to throw things that were difficult to break. I remember one time they threw an entire set of encyclopedias, A-Z at each other. It's hard to break encyclopedias, but it was quite a mess when I came home. I open the door, and Jennifer is at the top of the stairs, and she has an office chair lifted up over her head that she's about to throw at Ronda at the bottom of the stairs. I said ‘Jennifer!' and she says, ‘What?' [laughs]
TAP: There's been a lot of media coverage recently given to the growing problem of domestic violence in MMA. What are your thoughts on the topic and do you think it's a bigger problem in combat sports than league sports? If you were to give some bits of advice to women to help them spot signs and avoid possible DV situations, what would they be?
Dr. De Mars: I have no idea if domestic violence is more common in MMA because what I know about the sport is the people who are Ronda's friends and are nice to her, I hope they win. The people that are mean to her, I hope they lose.
As far as domestic violence, the thing I've told my girls their whole lives is that nobody has the right to beat you, nobody, under any circumstances whatsoever. Whether you mean that in terms of beating you in a match or just beating you up, no one ever has the right to beat you.
I was talking to a friend recently, and it seems like every woman you know has a story of somebody in her family—whether it's themselves or a daughter, sister or their niece—somebody has been in an abusive relationship. I said, ‘That's my next multi-million dollar company. If I can figure out why women let that happen.'
I think one thing that happens is the gradual controlling. The guy starts out all lovey-dovey and he's great to you, but gradually, he's becoming more controlling and doing little things like cutting you down, so I definitely think there are warning signs for women to watch out for.
With Bec Rawlings, I don't agree with everything she says, but it's very courageous of her to come out and speak about her situation with domestic violence. That was a very brave thing for her to do. There are so many strong women, beautiful women in these situations, and you're like, ‘Why are you putting up with this crap?' I think it's because they don't see it, because it's such a gradual progression. So, one piece of advice I would say, if you have a lot of people around you questioning why you're with this guy, why you're letting him treat you like that, you should ask yourself, ‘Why am I letting him treat me like that?'
If you're with somebody that's telling you, ‘You're no good. You need me. Nobody else would put up with you. I made you,' that's not true. Nobody made anybody, and whoever you are, you can do fine on your own.
I think women need to realize there isn't just one person in the whole world that completes you. The wonderful thing about this planet is that there are 3.5 billion men on it, so if this one is treating you bad, you've got 3.5 billion other ones to choose from. One of them will do.
TAP: Bethe has gone out of her way to stir up as much bad blood as she can for this fight. How do you view athletes like her, that don't mind resorting to a "mean girl" style of attack?
Dr. De Mars: I think it's one thing to sell a fight, but there are lines you don't cross. Ronda never said anything about Cat Zingano's husband, because she understood that it was a very painful thing. I just think there are lines you don't cross, and I feel like she crossed some of them.
TAP: It's come out in the past that you call all of Ronda's boyfriend's "Bob." Is that still the policy? Is her current man "Bob"?
Dr. De Mars: I don't know that she has a current serious one, but he's definitely Bob. Now there are four daughters—the older two are married—but when you have four daughters, there's always boys coming and going. It would be too much effort to remember all their names. So yeah, whatever one she's had dinner with recently, he's Bob.