Towards the end of 2011 there was a storm starting to brew in women’s mixed martial arts. A 24-year-old fighter named Ronda Rousey finished off her fourth professional fight with her fourth straight armbar in less than a minute of the first round. Along the way of her 4-0 record, Rousey complemented her early success inside the cage with the kind of self-promotion you’d expect from a UFC veteran clamoring for a title shot. It worked, as Rousey was soon introduced to the world when she headlined a Strikeforce card on Showtime against Miesha Tate for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship.

The build-up and promotion for Rousey’s fight with Tate was unlike anything we had previously seen in association with a women’s fight. The benchmark for the popularity of women’s MMA in recent years had surrounded Gina Carano, but Tate and Rousey set the new bar for how a women’s fight should be marketed. The fight didn’t disappoint either, as Rousey once again won by armbar in the first round.

Since that event, Rousey has won two more fights—yes, by armbar in the first round—and has paved the way for an exciting women’s division in the UFC. Rousey, the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion, has done nothing to slow her momentum as arguably the sport’s biggest star, male or female.

But who is the real Ronda Rousey?

Some believe she’s a one-trick pony trash-talker who is one loss away from heading into a full-time acting career. Others, who are familiar with her away from the camera, say she’s as dedicated of a fighter and as genuine of a person as one would ever meet.

The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate has given us a glimpse into what Rousey may be like away from the cage. What we’ve found through the first two months of the show’s airing is that she appears to be just as we have perceived her.

For most fans, this was the first chance they have had to see Rousey as a person, rather than just a fighter. We know she absolutely hates Tate, but we are starting to have more of an understanding as to why. Whether it’s a trick of editing or not, Tate and her camp come off as a group of people who have an agenda in mind to poke and prod Rousey’s team until they finally snap. The continuous antics that Tate’s camp has utilized towards Rousey’s trainer, Edmond Tarverdyan, are juvenile and have centered around Tarverdyan’s physical characteristics. This, of course, is building upon the foundation that Tate’s boyfriend, Bryan Caraway, set last year on Twitter when he said he would bash Rousey’s teeth in if she ever wanted to challenge a man.

Prior to seeing Rousey’s interaction with Tate on TUF, it would be easy to imagine her forcing the rivalry on us to build ratings. However, the reality series makes it obvious that these are clearly her raw feelings towards Tate.

Tate has the smile and Rousey has the snarl, but the smile has emerged from Rousey quite a few times thus far. She has such a passionate interest in the well-being of her fighters. At no time was this more apparent than following the first fight of the season, when Shayna Baszler lost to Julianna Pena. Sure, Rousey may have over-analyzed Tate’s smile following the fight, but the tears that streamed from Rousey’s face as she shared in Baszler’s disappointment epitomized how strongly she feels about her fighters and, above all, winning.

Viewers got a chance to see Rousey’s mom, Ann Maria Rousey DeMars, and the close bond the two have with each other. The episode that featured her mom’s visit further exemplified how real Ronda is in everything that she does.

We’re also met with the softer side of Rousey, such as when she made sure the dads in the house got a gift on Father’s Day. It’s actions such as this, coupled with the sneer and pranks of Tate, that are getting even more fans on board with Team Rousey. People want to relate to somebody who tells it like it is. As a society, we absolutely hate those who say one thing in front of you and then do another behind your back. Perhaps it’s the way the show has been edited so far, but there is no doubting the fact that we are seeing Rousey in a way that portrays her as a very genuine, well-rounded individual.

Getting to know Rousey more through TUF was one of the more interesting appeals of having her as a coach on the reality series, regardless of her coaching adversary’s identity. Having Tate as Rousey’s counterpart, though, only adds to the intrigue as the two build towards fighting each other at the end of the year. It’s hard to imagine Rousey losing fans over anything she has done thus far on the show. If anything, she is earning the respect of those who may have been siding with Tate.

Rousey may come off as pompous at times, but she balances that with a strong work ethic and a sincere interest in supporting those around her. She’s good for the sport, and her exposure on The Ultimate Fighter will only help her in bringing fans over to her corner.

Photo: Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.

  • marc

    I used to be a big fan of Rhonda but after watching TUF have become bigger fan of Miesha Tate.
    Pranks aside, rousey seems like such a miserable person and I wouldn’t want my daughter idolizing her. I think every coach has pulled some sort of prank on the other team on I last TUF’s and took out all in stride. Your defense of rousey shores seem a bit biasef.

    • Suhly

      I completely agree. I was a huge Fan of Ronda. I use to admire her so much. And now I cannot say the same. I still admire her as a fighter, But I really want Miesha to win. I hope she does. And although they are rivals I still admire them both.

    • Daniel

      I feel the opposite.
      Sure, I liked Ronda before the show.
      But in the very first beginning I tought “hey! Is it just me or Ronda might be a b**** ?” with a little of “hey Miesha seems a nice girl”
      But turns out that Ronda might just be a hot head being picked on while Miesha may just be a calculist wolf in sheep’s clothing.
      Like that spoiled little girl that keeps picking on the big sister until she looses it, and when she does the little girls would cry to mama on how mean the big sister is.

  • An excellent informative bias-free article, sir!

    [Low intelligence people will of course attempt to lambast you and Ronda for this article.]

  • Gary Pennington

    Ronda views her team as family and it’s completely understandable that she would get upset over the constant attacks on her coach!! She wears her heart on her sleeve and has the heart of a champion!! It’s amazing what she has accomplished for EVERY woman in the sport and doesn’t get near the respect she deserves!!

  • When Ronda was running rampant about cyborg! Every one was behind her,she was so good at being fake! Talking trash bashing another fighter who was caught using! The thing is that everyone uses,but a few.Yeah,she had a right to speak but kept going on and on degrading cyborg to the fullest,but she knew she wasn’t gonna fight against her,all talk!.Thanks to the show her persona was exposed! Everybody who watched saw how fake she really is, her personality sucks! Didn’t Diaz schooled her on how it isn’t cool to act like a home girl if she’s not one!That kind of attitude only works for the Diaz bros!. After watching the drama I started wondering about asking Dana,what Olympics’ are wee talking about? Cause I believe that there is two different types. As for her title defense against a person who has lost the game already? That is not a big deal! Tate lost in the early stages,what’s gonna change this time?her other arm? Wee will watch.

  • Suzi

    Did anyone see her dismiss the second fighter. He said sorry coach and she turned her face and said better luck to the next fighter. She totally dismissed his pain … Unbiased writer my arse. The woman is a miserable overreacting bitch. While I say her fighting skills are great, her personality is Jon existent. Her cheap shot at humanising herself by giving away fathers dad presents. sorry but the foul, snarling, focused and hypercritical nature ate the true persona of this woman. Please someone smash the crap out of her to teach her some humility otherwise I fear she will be a self centred ego centric forever. the true measure of a person is to take a loss and rise above someone she has clearly not been able to do with her fighters . Seriously giving the finger and saying fuck you at the end of a fight. The one who rises above always looks better. Take a lesson Rousey

  • Ronportsmouth

    I too was a Ronda fan before the season began but there is no excuse in having no class and she has none. Miesha has shown a lot of class this season and she see’s the fighting as a job. She made a statement in the middle of the season and that is Ronda has to hate a person to fight them, Miesha doesn’t. Again its a job, you don’t have to be buddies but you can show respect. Now Ronda says she is the way she is because that’s how her mother taught her to be. Maybe that’s true but she was taught to be a person with NO CLASS.

  • The special olympics strikes again! Running her big mouth again! Talk is so cheap! Cain vs Rousey! Promoting domestic violence! What a looser! I’m glad I never was a fan,I admit when she first came around the corner it seemed that she was all down to earth everyone gave her respect and admiration for her achievement very sharp! Fame went to her head,then she started talking about fellow fighters? GSP,Cyborg,Tate,Cain, she proved to be all talk no show! What happened yesterday is gone. Today she’s the opposite of what admiration every one felt. Her own fans don’t like what she really is. I don’t care what she is I’m not her fan or family. But she called out cyborg but didn’t deliver! All cheap talk,and fake! She proved it herself.