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UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will defend her title against number one contender Bethe Correia at UFC 190 on August 1 in Rio de Janiero in Brazil. After her last fight in February in which she submitted Cat Zingano in 14 seconds, Ronda went on a promotional whirlwind, including starring in the films Entourage and Furious 7, releasing her autobiography “My Fight/Your Fight,” and representing Reebok at the UFC/Reebok fit launch last month. That’s where M&F caught up with the undefeated champion to talk training, the UFC/Reebok partnership, the bad blood between her opponent, and more.
Ronda’s training camp started off on a mountain, which included running uphill in the Reebok ZPump Fusion sneakers. What mountain?
“I’ve kind of been keeping it a secret because I wanted us to have our own, isolated place to get away from the world,” Rousey says. “This is Rocky IV: I’m going to a new territory, beating the girl on her own territory, and I’m training on a mountain.”
There is no “typical day of training” Ronda says but she says her favorite exercise is hitting mitts. So much that her coach withholds the drill from her, using it as a reward for working hard in other aspects of training. Overall, Rousey trains four hours a day, broken into two, two-hour sessions. And while she used to lift weights as a young judoka, she doesn’t focus on resistance training as much these days.
“I lifted a lot when I was younger and I got a really great base but it got to a point where I didn’t need to get bigger and stronger,” says Rousey. “I’m happy with where I’m at muscle wise and weight wise so the only weights I really lift are when I shadowbox with weights.”
A Reebok-sponsored athlete, Rousey touted the importance of the Reebok/UFC partnership for up and coming fighters.
“I wish I had this Reebok deal when I was coming up because it would have been nice if I didn’t have to hustle for an apparel sponsor,” says Rousey. “The first time I defended my title, I wore an MMA brand for $9,000 and they stiffed me. They just didn’t even pay me. So, I think it’s awesome the more that they win, the more money that they make. It’s also so nice to not have to worry anymore and to feel protected.”
Going into her sixth title defense, Rousey is treating this one entirely different than the others, largely due to the fact that in May, Correia said she hopes Ronda “does not kill herself later on” after losing to her. That remark hit home for Rousey and the fight became personal.
“When it got to a point where she was really laughing at the greatest pain that my family has ever endured is when it crossed the line,” says Rousey. “It’s definitely become personal for me and I’m not going to finish her off quick. I’m going to savor this one. When I finish fights quickly, that’s when I’m being nice. I’m not going to be nice to this chick and she’s going to have a very long, painful lesson.”
Rousey chose to fight Correria in Brazil and sees it as an opportunity for an entertaining victory.
“They have so much energy and passion so I’m happy to be there to entertain,” says Rousey. “I’m there to make them happy, not to be really liked by them. Even if everybody is cheering for the girl that I’m fighting and I win, there’s still made happy by the fact that everyone was so engaged and so brought into that moment.”
As much an inspiration Rousey has been for female athletes across all walks of fitness, she still looks to one person for motivation: her mother, a former world judo champion.
“I’m so lazy in comparison to my mother,” Rousey says. “She went to college at 16, graduated at 19 and was a single mother working as an engineer, getting her Ph. D when she won the World Championships in Judo. I’m constantly looking to her to think what more could I do.”
Fueled by the path her mother carved for her and a true passion for fighting, Ronda continues to find her happy place in the octagon. The cage is the place where Ronda feels most in tune with her mind and body.
“Fighting is how I keep a level head in the rest of my life,” says Rousey. “That’s where my place of solace is, where my focus is and it’s the one thing that really centers me. The only thing that fits in my brain is observations and decisions. That’s why when I walk out of there, I don’t remember anything most of the time because it’s like I’m on play. I’m not recording anymore.”
Throughout the promotion of the UFC 190 bout, Rousey has continued to state that she’s looking to make a statement in this fight. If things go her way in Brazil, she might actually remember what occurred in the octagon.
“I’ve never looked forward to beating up somebody more in my entire life,” Ronday says. “This is the only time that I’ll say that I’ll purposely drag a fight out to punish someone.”