In just a few short years, Ronda Rousey went from being the most dominant female fighter in the UFC (and arguably in MMA at the time) to a hard fall from grace. “Rowdy” took another shot at reclaiming lost glory in 2016 against Amanda Nunes, but unfortunately, failed miserably.
Without making things official, Rousey walked away from MMA for good shortly after. She also never gave any reasons for her abrupt yet understandable departure, but in a recent exclusive sit-down with Daniel Cormier, she admitted not walking away at the right time.
“It was difficult in both judo and MMA in that everyone else felt that they wanted more from me,” Rousey said.
“In judo, you peak in your mid-20s. I medalled at 21, so I was going to be 25 for the next Olympics. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, this is it! You’re gonna be the first to win an Olympic gold.’ And I didn’t want it anymore. And I couldn’t do it for everybody else.
“I think that’s a mistake that I made with MMA was when I got to that point where I didn’t want it anymore, I kept doing it for everybody else.”
Rousey says that this “people-pleaser” attitude could be both a key and a hindrance to success.
“I think to be at that top level, you kind of have to be a people-pleaser. You want to please your coach, you want to please your parents, you want to please everybody watching. It’s one of the things that make you excel, but it’s one of those things that… it can be an obstacle a lot of times,” she explained.
“Knowing when is the right time to walk away, it’s got to be your decision, ‘cause not everybody else is going to come to a consensus. And nobody knows what you’re actually going through and what it actually takes.
“You’re, like, a novelty on TV every couple of months. Whereas that’s your everyday and your reality. And I think setting boundaries with that relationship of everybody else and not doing things for them and doing things for you, even though you won’t be understood.
“That was the hardest part — letting go of that need of feeling understood. ‘Cause no one’s ever going to.”
Now 35, Rousey enjoys her life as a first-time mother and a WWE talent. She did, however, speak about a potential comeback fight with fellow women’s MMA pioneer Gina Carano, who did agree that it “could happen” at some point in the future.