It was October 1, 2019, and the season nine premiere of a long running series was broadcasting on U.S. television. The series in question was Total Divas, a reality show chronicling the lives of the WWE’s female stars. Ronda Rousey was making her debut on the show, and in this episode she made a startling confession about what might force her to quit the ring for good.
Now, Rousey had first joined the WWE in January 2018, after becoming one of the breakout stars of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) enterprise on the planet. And she was also the first ever woman fighter signed to the competition, which is run by company Endeavor. So her move from MMA to wrestling was a really big deal.
Furthermore, the American had risen from a tough childhood right to the very top of the UFC. Yes, she had overcome a significant amount of personal turmoil to achieve astonishing feats, accolades and titles. But after going into wrestling, it soon emerged that her life was changing. And by Rousey’s own admission, it was something that she couldn’t simply ignore.
So what exactly did Rousey confess? And why does it mean that she’ll probably have to quit the ring for good? Well, we’ll get to the details of that a bit later. Firstly, though, let’s rewind back to the beginning and take a detailed look at Rousey’s remarkable life and career.
Ronda Jean Rousey entered the world on February 1, 1987. And she was born in the city of Riverside in Riverside County, California. Now, her place of birth is a municipality of just over 300,000 residents that lies around 89 km east of Los Angeles, constituting a part of Greater Los Angeles.
And Rousey was the third and youngest daughter of Ron Rousey and AnnMaria de Mars (née Waddell). Due to a frightening complication that occurred during her birth, Rousey faced difficulty early on in life. Indeed, her umbilical cord became wrapped tightly around her neck, and it was uncertain as to whether she would survive the aftermath. Thankfully, Rousey pulled through, but the episode would not be entirely without consequence.
In fact, Rousey appeared to have been born with at least partial brain damage as a result of the incident. This manifested itself as a speech impediment and learning difficulties, with Rousey unable to talk properly for years. So her family moved to Jamestown, North Dakota when Rousey was three to be near leading speech therapists at Minot State University. There, the therapists got to work on reawakening her vocal cords.
With regard to her parents, her father Ron worked in the aerospace business as an executive, while her mom AnnMaria was a statistician and educational psychology PhD student. But it would be her mother who would influence greatly the direction Rousey would go in. That’s because AnnMaria was also into combat sports, namely Judo.
But it wasn’t just a bit of fun for her. In fact, AnnMaria took gold in the 56kg class at the 1984 World Judo Championships in Vienna, Austria – becoming the first American to achieve this. That victory was before her daughter was even born, but it would serve as a major inspiration for Rousey in her climb to the top.
Despite her problems with speech – which made her self-conscious – Rousey did okay in school. Although she was home-schooled for parts of her education due to her learning difficulties, in high school she would achieve good results in science, art and math. But before she’d even made it there, she would suffer a most heartbreaking tragedy.
Yes, when she was just eight, Rousey would lose her father. You see, in early 1995 Ron was enjoying sledding in the snow with his daughters, when he struck a concealed log. And despite her mom thinking he was play acting, Rousey’s father had in fact broken his back. Subsequently, he spent nearly half a year in hospital having numerous surgeries and blood transfusions.
However, the surgeries were not successful, and Ron was given the devastating news that he would eventually be unable to walk. In actual fact, he would quickly degenerate from being a paraplegic to a quadriplegic. Becoming too much for him, on August 11, 1995, Ron hugged his daughters, left the house and ended his own life in his car.
After her father’s passing, Rousey and her sisters moved back to the Golden State with their mother. But a few years on, the heartbroken youngster would find some solace – and an outlet for her emotional pain – in learning her mom’s sport, Judo. And she began her training under the watchful eye of her mother when she was just 11 years old.
With her mother’s expert tutelage, Rousey began to perfect the fundamentals of the sport, such as the armbar move that involves pinning an opponent. In fact, she soon found out she had a major talent for it, and duly quit high school. It meant she was well on the way to becoming a judoka star just like her mom.
What’s more, Rousey’s special talent didn’t go unnoticed for long. When she was just 15, she was named in the United States’ Olympic team. By 16, she entered the history books as the youngest American to be ranked number one in the female’s half-middleweight division. Soon after, she made the cut for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, aged 17.
And although she failed to land a medal in the Greek capital – finishing ninth – it was a huge step in her career going forward. Furthermore, the future wrestler did win the gold medal in both the Pan American Judo Championship and World Junior Judo Championships, also in 2004.
Two years later, Rousey went on to successfully defend her Pan American Judo Championship. The year after that she achieved the silver medal at the 2007 World Championships. Another Pan American Games gold was claimed that same year despite a knee problem, before Rousey made the Olympic Games again, taking home the bronze medal in Beijing 2008.
Despite being the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in Judo, Rousey retired from the martial art when she was just 21. And she initially struggled to figure out what to do next. As money became tight, the former Olympian toiled as a cocktail waitress in Los Angeles, even living out of her car with her dog. Then, in 2010, she found her calling in MMA.
Now, Rousey had dabbled in the sport before, training at the Hayastan MMA Academy when she was first into Judo. And she’d fought with soon-to-be MMA stars Karo Parisyan and Manny Gamburyan. Although it often led to tears, fighting against men really toughened her up. This time, though, the Californian joined the Glendale Fighting Club and began her fruitful relationship with coach Edmond Tarverdyan.
And by August 2010 Rousey was ready to make her competitive bow. In fact, her debut in the amateur ranks ended in victory in a mere 23 seconds. The quick finish became routine for Rousey, as she hunted down and took out her adversaries as soon as the bell sounded. For example, in November 2010 she got the job done against Autumn Richardson after just 57 seconds.
When Rousey quit the amateurs, she held an unblemished 3-0 record, stopping all of her opponents within a minute. Mind you, the professional game didn’t prove any tougher for her initially. You see, the Californian – who adopted the nickname “Rowdy” from the late WWE wrestler Roddy Piper – chalked up four quickfire wins in under a minute.
By this time, she’d joined the Strikeforce competition, with the latter two victories of her first four outings being armbar submissions of Sarah D’Alelio and Julia Budd. So the time had come for Rousey to compete for a title. And she called out Miesha Tate after destroying Budd, declaring she would step down to 135 lbs to take on her rival.
So the fight for the Women’s Strikeforce Bantamweight title took place in March 2012. And it would be the Californian’s toughest assignment and longest bout yet. Still, Rousey won the contest with 4:27 on the clock, forcing Tate into submission with her trademark armbar move and dislocating her elbow.
Around this time, Rousey began to crossover into the mainstream. You see, her pretty face coupled with her ability to verbally trash then destroy her opponents made her a star. So she landed on the cover of ESPN’s 2012 Body Issue, and was invited on Conan O’Brien’s late-night chat show.
Then the Californian defended her Strikeforce Bantamweight title with a 54 second win over Sarah Kaufman. And when the world’s biggest MMA competition, the UFC, began a female operation, the first person they signed was Rousey. With her pedigree in the sport, UFC President Dana White appointed her as the Bantamweight Champion in late 2012. And she made her first successful defence of her new belt in February 2013.
In fact, Rousey defended her title a further five times until late 2015, to take her total MMA record to 12-0. Alongside this came movie appearances in The Expendables 3 and Fast & Furious 7 . Furthermore, she began dating fellow UFC star Travis Browne. Everything seemed to be going great. But on November 14, 2015 she was knocked out by Holly Holm. Her long title reign was over.
Although she wanted to exact revenge on Holm, Rousey returned to the Octagon just over a year later to face the new champion, Amanda Nunes. Sadly, it would be another devastating night for the formerly invincible titleholder. Indeed, she was wiped out by the Brazilian within 48 seconds. It was her second straight defeat, both by early KO, and ultimately led to her exit from UFC.
Initially, Rousey took some time out after her loss, including a vacation to New Zealand. It was here that Browne proposed to her in April 2017, and the loved-up couple wed just four months later in Hawaii. But by late 2017 rumors were flying that Rousey was about to make an exciting new career move. And by early 2018 it was confirmed: she was joining the WWE.
Rousey told ESPN at the time, “This is my life now. First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt.” And the Californian would become a huge WWE hit, calling herself the “Baddest Woman on The Planet.” In fact, she quickly became the Raw Women’s Champion, beating Alexa Bliss.
Like she had in UFC, Rousey became formidable in the WWE. Yes she beat Nikki Bella, Mickie James, Nia Jax, Natalya, and Sasha Banks during her title reign. But she later lost her WWE title at WrestleMania 35 to Becky Lynch. Then, in October 2019, Rousey appeared on Total Divas, with a bombshell admission: she might quit fighting forever.
Yes, Rousey would have an emotional heart to heart with husband Travis Browne on the show. And she told him, “I’ve got like everyone on earth asking me about me and my plans for my uterus. I’m just, I get tired of how many times my mom has called me and being like, ‘You’re pregnant?’ And I’m like ‘no, it’s just April Fool’s Day and they (the media) decided to put out again that I’m pregnant.’”
The show then cut to a clip of Rousey talking to the camera alone where she revealed more about her thinking. “I thought the WWE would be fun but I didn’t think that I’d fall in love with it the way that I have,” she declared. “I really do enjoy working, I love it. I get to do exactly what I wanted to do, but I wonder, am I being selfish?”
But what exactly did Rousey mean when she asked if she was being selfish? Well, the wrestler would reveal all shortly after. “I want Travis Browne and I want his babies, I just… I’m not sure when,” she said. The show then returned to the pair of them stood together, embracing on their farm.
Now, Rousey had already given a hint of her plans in a YouTube video from April 2019 that she made with Browne. She said, “As for WWE plans in the future, we want to have a baby first. I don’t know what it’s like to have a baby. I could look down at this beautiful child and be like ‘f**k everything, I don’t care about anything else other than this baby’. And you’ll never see me again.”
But she continued, “Or, I could be like my mom [AnnMaria De Mars], who trained while she was eight months pregnant and then won the U.S. Open six weeks after giving birth. Which was unbelievable.” On that note, it’s a matter of watch this space given that Rousey hasn’t appeared on a WWE show since her 2019 loss to Lynch. Is she, for instance, already trying to start a family?
Well yes, but not in such a regimented way as some first thought. You see, after the Total Divas bombshell, Rousey spoke exclusively to website E!Online in December 2019. And she clarified that actually her and Browne were letting “nature take its course” with regard to getting pregnant.
As she went on to explain to E!Online, “We’re just putting it out in the universe and letting nature take its course and not trying to rush it or put any pressure on ourselves. “Just kind of enjoy our time as a family together. Enjoying every day and accepting it whenever it happens.”
Furthermore, the former Raw Women’s Champion let it be known that she was getting some experience of parenting already. You see, she acts as a stepmom to Browne’s two children from a previous relationship, Keawe and Kaleo. She told E!Online, “It went from that, looking out for number one, to completely an entire family. It taught me how much joy I can get in not really thinking about myself.”
And with that came something Rousey thought she’d never change her mind on – cooking. She said. “I swore on my life that I would never cook for a man and, ‘F**k that s**t! I’m not here to serve you, bitch,’” she joked about Browne. However, the Californian said her husband had made her want to “spoil him back” because he had always taken the initiative in the kitchen himself.
So things can change in the world of strong, powerful women, too. Or do they? Well, in April 2020 Rousey stirred things up in WWE circles again by branding the promotion “fake fights for fun.” That’s right, and during the podcast Wilde Ride with Steve-O the tough talker added that she’d probably only return to WWE part-time because she preferred to spend time with her family. Given her background, it’ll be a brave wrestling executive who insists otherwise.