UFC women's welterweight champion Ronda Rousey was recently profiled in The New Yorker in a piece titled "Why the world’s best female fighter loves to be hated." The piece is broad, very capably covering the history of MMA, the UFC, and Women's MMA.
The article showed Rousey's media savvy.
When KTLA cut to her in the gym, she talked politely about McMann’s wrestling achievements, and about their parallel careers: McMann won a silver medal in wrestling at the Athens Olympics, while Rousey took bronze in judo at Beijing. The goal, after all, was to persuade fans to pay $54.99 to watch the two women fight, live from Las Vegas, on pay-per-view. But once the cameras left she assessed her chances more candidly. She predicted that McMann would fall back on her old wrestling moves for fear of Rousey’s brutal arm bar. “I don’t think that this matches up well for her,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that in a pre-fight interview, and I haven’t. Because it doesn’t make sense in order to sell it. I need people to doubt me.” She laughed. “And, besides, these guys”—she nodded toward Tarverdyan and his assistants—“put large sums of money on me winning, and they always get shitty odds. So I want to help them out.” She looked up. “Edmond, do you know the Vegas odds for this fight?”
And it got personal.
Rousey’s birth was eventful: she was choked out by the umbilical cord, which wrapped around her neck and deprived her of oxygen long enough to damage her brain. She didn’t speak her first sentence until she was six, and even then she was difficult to understand. (She speaks clearly—and quickly—now.) The family moved to North Dakota, where Rousey’s father, Ronald, practiced pronunciation with her and encouraged a growing interest in competitive swimming. In 1995, suffering from a degenerative spine injury caused by a sledding accident, Ronald Rousey committed suicide. Rousey still struggles to explain how his death affected her, and wonders if it’s even right to mention it. “I feel like I’m prostituting his memory for my own career gain,” she said, sobbing, during a U.F.C. special. “And it makes me feel like a f---ing a------.”
And towards the end, it got to Invicta FC's Cris Justino.
“In a perfect world, she wouldn’t have been taking all those steroids and hormones for so many years that she ceased to be a woman anymore,” Rousey said one afternoon, when Cyborg’s name was mentioned—she was driving back to the gym from a nearby juice bar, and her sunny mood suddenly darkened. “In a perfect world, she would be a girl and not an it.” This sounded more like passionate indignation than like idle pre-fight trash talk. Beneath Rousey’s anti-drug message, you could also hear echoes of the old insistence that women fighters take pains to be scrupulously feminine, lest the spectre of manliness turn the fledgling sport into a freak show.
This is one of the best mainstream profiles on MMA to date. Do yourself a favor and read the entire thing...
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