Rousey: Dana had no choice but to love me
Jonathan Snowden, MMA lead writer for Bleacher Report, profiles how Ronda Rousey determined to make UFC president Dana White change his mind about female fighters, and what she wants to do with her influence now that she has arrived.
It’s something White said would never happen. And he was adamant.
For Rousey and other fighters on the burgeoning women’s circuit, that was a problem.
“I was always asked about Dana saying women would never be in the UFC,” Rousey told Bleacher Report. “And I just said ‘Look, he has no choice about it. I’m going to make him love me. There’s nothing he can do.’
“I was going to be so good and capture so much attention it’s going to be impossible for him to ignore me. It was something that had to be done if I wanted to have any future in this.”
The two had engaged in friendly banter in the past, and White was impressed with Rousey’s athleticism and skill in the cage. It was clear that women were capable of fighting at a high level. But he remained unconvinced that it was the right fit for his promotion—until a moment backstage in San Diego last August prior to Rousey’s title bout with Canadian Sarah Kaufman.
“I’ve been in the fight business since I was 19 years old,” White told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. “And I know real fighters when I see them. She’s a real fighter. She looked right through me with these eyes, like we’d never f—ing met and she didn’t give a f— if we’d ever meet. I loved it. Loved it.”
So now Rousey has received what White referred to as the most media attention ever garnered by a UFC figher, and rides around in a BMW, a gift from her new bosses. But her mother, the former world Judo champion Dr. Ann Maria De Mars wanted to know what she was going to do with her new-found fame. What cause would she support?
The answer was immediate: eating disorders.
“It’s not one of the sexy or cool causes,” said Ronda. “People don’t really want to talk about it. I don’t give a damn about being cool. I just want to help people. I’m secretly kind of a squishy, cuddly type. Because of my profession, people think I’m a lot meaner than I am.
“But fighting for a living has quite the opposite effect. I fight every day. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. That means the whole rest of the day I’m so calm, mellow and chilled out. I have no more mean left over.”
The result of a spur of the moment brainstorming session with family and friends was a partnership with the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Clinic called, “Don’t Throw Up, Throw Down!” Together with the experts, Rousey will be taking the fight to bulimia.
She will match donations up to a total of $5,000 and perform a clinic for just the second time since beginning her professional career, donating all the proceeds to help young people with eating disorders.