After my fight with Julie Kedzie last August, I announced I was taking some time off from my career. What I didn’t say at the time is that I wanted some time outside of MMA, out of fighting and doing media interviews, because I wasn’t enjoying MMA anymore. I’m OK with explaining what was going on now but, at the time, I was in a pretty bad place psychologically and didn’t feel like I could move forward in my career like I was.
The world title loss to Ronda, and actually the whole build-up and reaction to that fight, was really eating at me.
Every interview I did, even when I was fighting a tough veteran like Julie, was about Ronda and all the things that had been said between us. I felt like I wasn’t in a sport as much as some big drama. I understood that’s what the media and the fans wanted to hear about, but I didn’t know how to answer these questions without coming across like I was bitter or jealous because – honestly – I was a little bitter and jealous.
I can admit now, but I hated the way I had lost that fight and my title, I hated the way I’d been out there struggling with the other female fighters for years trying to get female MMA on the map and how Ronda had shown up, talked crap, won a title and was now the top star. And, most of all, I hated Ronda Rousey.
There are other fighters – including Ronda, obviously – who seem to draw strength from hating on their rivals and taking trash. They use it to motivate themselves in the gym to train harder and in the Octagon and, hey, that’s great they have a way to fuel themselves. But none of that works for me. I’m not saying that makes me a better sportsman, or that it makes me less competitive, all I am saying is that approach doesn’t work for me.
In the fight against Ronda, I went in there to beat her up, not win an MMA match. I make mistakes, my head wasn’t where it needed to be, and I got beat. And after the fight, instead of making me want to train even harder, all my hatred of Ronda was doing is making me not want to be around MMA at all.
This feud with Ronda was poisoning my love for the sport of MMA. I had to own up to that fact before I could get back to where I was before this rivalry happened.
Eventually, I was driving somewhere with Bryan and we had a long talk about it. He said he also thought that revenge wasn’t a good motivator for me, that it didn’t suit my mentality and personality or who I am as an athlete.I honestly believe happiness is a choice. And I chose to be happy in my career, and to use positive things like becoming a two-time women’s champion to motivate me rather than hatred of a girl who, like it or not, I was going to be linked with for the rest of my career.
Once I made that choice, I came to realize that Ronda, with her brash personality and the way she represents herself, came along at the right time to make a great rivalry with me. She’s opened a lot of doors that are now open to me, too.
But that’s not to say I like Ronda as a person or that I like the way she goes about certain aspects of the sport. But I respect her...