Previously undefeated after 12 professional mixed martial arts fights, Ronda Rousey famously got knocked out by Holly Holm at UFC 193 on Nov. 15 with a swift, solid kick to the face. Can she recover from that spectacular loss? She can and she will according to the retiring Kobe Bryant who’s now on his farewell season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In an interview with Mike Bohn of USA Today’s Sport, Bryant admitted reaching out to Rousey after the loss and telling her that “it’s a beautiful thing.” He said: “To be a true champion sometimes you have to get knocked down. It happens to the best of us. It happened with my Achilles (when I tore it), (Muhammad) Ali got put down several times – it happens to the best of us.”
“I think the true mark of a champion is how you get up from that,” added the Black Mamba. “If she goes through her entire career undefeated, she becomes this mythical figure that nobody can relate to. She got beat. We all get beat at some point or another in our lives. Now it’s a matter of how she bounces back from that. I think that’s what makes her a true champion.”
Current UFC feather weight champion Conor McGregor who”ll be challenging Rafael Dos Anjos’ lightweight crown on March 5 at UFC 196, previously also shared his own take on Rousey’s prospects at rebounding back from her loss to Holm. In a snap interview with X17 Online [according to Sports Joe], The Notorious said: “This is the fight business, things happen. Ronda will be back. True champions come back. Defeat is the secret ingredient to success. True champions can conquer that, overcome it and come back. So I wish her all the best and that’s it.”
Rousey is no stranger to life’s challenges. Born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, she nearly died from oxygen lack. She sustained slight brain damage which impeded her ability to speak until she was 6. As if that wasn’t enough, her beloved father Ron committed suicide when she was 8. Ron broke his back while sledding with his daughters. He committed suicide after learning that he would be a paraplegic for the rest of his life.
Ronda struggled in class and was homeschooled for parts of elementary and high school. Her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, persuaded her to learn judo to give her an outlet for her frustrations. Herself a gold medal–winning judoka at the 1984 World Championships, she taught Ronda some fundamentals of the sport. She progressed quickly through her judo studies, eventually becoming a 4th degree black judo belt holder.
At 17, Rond became the youngest judoka in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. That same year, she also won a gold medal at the World Junior Judo Championships in Budapest. In 2006, she became the first U.S. female in almost 10 years to win an A-Level tournament, going 5-0 to clench the gold at the World Cup in Great Britain. At 19, she won the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships. She became the first U.S. athlete to win two Junior World Medals. In 2007, she added a silver at the World Judo Championships and a gold at the Pan American Games. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, she won the bronze medal, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s judo since it became an Olympic sport in 1992.
Following her stint at the 2008 Olympics, Ronda opted to hang her judo gi in the closet. She became a bartender to make ends meet. She lived at her car for a while. Eventually, after seeing a Gina Carano fight on TV by chance, she decided to join the Glendale Fighting Club in Los Angeles. She made her mixed martial arts debut as an amateur in 2010, winning her first fight by way of an armbar in just 23 seconds of the match up. Two more amateur bouts followed, both ending via armbar submission after 57 and 24 seconds, respectively. After turning pro in the sport, she continued her run of domination, reeling off four straight wins, all in under a minute matches. In March 2012, she defeated Miesha Tate in four minutes and 27 seconds, becoming the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
Ronda became the first woman to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest mixed martial arts league. She was designated Bantamweight Champion. She easily successfully defended her belt in the inaugural UFC women’s bout in February 2012, submitting Liz Carmouche via armbar in four minutes and 49 seconds. At that point, Ronda was her own best publicist, always taking it upon herself to go after and get attention to women’s sports. With her good looks, her brash personality and her penchant for talking tough, she became a cross over star. She was featured on a cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2012 Body Issue, and appeared as a guest on Conan O’Brien’s talk show. In 2013, she appeared in a sexy photo spread for Maxim. She also starred in the 2014 movie ‘The Expendables 3’ and the 2015 film ‘Furious 7.’