A few years ago, one of Made Man’s editors needed a break from the Consumer Electronics Show and headed way off the Vegas strip to an MMA event at The Golden Nugget. Most of the fights were so-so, until a brawny but beautiful female combatant stepped into the ring… and dispatched her opponent in seconds. The crowd exploded in cheers. Not long after, Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey herself exploded onto the national scene by taking on all comers in the UFC.
The 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist is the circuit’s undefeated first and only bantamweight champ—winning eight of 10 fights by armbar—but now she is taking on a whole new challenge: Hollywood. Coming soon from her are roles in the Fast & Furious 7 and the Entourage movie, but first she’s playing with the big boys in The Expendables 3.
We asked her about acting, fighting and dating, of course.
“After doing two movies back to back I was so tired, I was so happy to get back in the gym. Going away and doing something different really motivated me to fight again. It made me hungry.”
Do you like acting?
Yeah! I love having something new to have to get good at that I don’t know anything about. That is what drew me to MMA in the first place. I got to a point when I was still in judo, where I wasn’t really learning anything new; I was just learning how to improve things. Then I started doing MMA, which totally reinvigorated all the passion I had for competitions. There were so many things I had no clue about, that I had to learn. I am getting to that point now in MMA [that] I was in judo. Acting has given me that big bright new shiny challenge. I am going to do MMA a whole lot longer because of acting, and I am going to do acting a lot longer because of MMA.
What has your schedule been like?
I really hit the ground running. I shot Expendables for eight weeks and then I worked on Fast & Furious 7, since I had to fit in a six-week training camp right after that! Everyone was doing everything they could to accommodate me—I really appreciate that so much. After doing two movies back to back I was so tired, I was so happy to get back in the gym. Going away and doing something different really motivated me to fight again. It made me hungry.
Does having boxing champ Victor Cruz and MMA veteran Randy Couture in the film make it easier for you?
Definitely much easier. I felt like such an amateur newbie with all these iconic actors, and I am just this fighter chick! They helped me feel like I belonged.
This shot by Brian Bowen Smith pretty much proves that tough and sexy are not mutually exclusive.
What’s one tip you can give someone just starting out in MMA?
Before you do anything, learn how to fall. You are never scared that way and just hit the deck. That’s why I got so many stunt jobs at the beginning—I was a professional faller! ‘Oh you want me to fall on concrete? OK, I will do it right now!’ It takes a lot of the fear away if you know how to fall correctly.
And what about an overall fitness tip?
Drink water! It makes a big difference with me. I drink a gallon or two every day.
What kind of outdoor sports do you like?
I love surfing, skim boarding, paddle boarding. I grew up in Venice Beach and I am down for any kind of oceanic activity. In my free time, when I am not in fitness camp, I go skim boarding every morning. It’s freezing so I put on a bunch of layers. I love having the beach to myself at that time.
What do you look for in a guy you want to date?
I rarely see someone and instantly say, ‘yeah, I want to date him.’ I think I only met one guy I had an immediate attraction to. Everyone else warmed up to me. Think about it: I’m around all these elite athletes, how a guy looks is not a make or break thing for me. It has to be a personality thing. A mix of confidence, kindness and good humor.