After Ronda Rousey lost to Holly Holm at UFC 193 exactly 13 months ago, it took her a long time to recover. If you remember, ESPN The Magazine ran a cover story on Rousey in the immediate aftermath of the fight in December 2015, and you could hear the devastation in the words she spoke to ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne. She briefly returned to the limelight in January to host Saturday Night Live as part of the healing process, but she disappeared just as quickly and stayed out of the spotlight for much of 2016. It took her months before she could do something as simple as bite down on an apple, and outside of a couple of noteworthy media appearances on Ellen and Conan, she shied away from doing much press. It was a tough year for the former UFC champion.
And yet, she managed to make it through it and, as she prepares for her UFC 207 fight with Amanda Nunes on December 30, she just spoke with Shelburne for ESPN The Mag again. This time, she sounds a lot better than she did last December, and while she’s still not 100 percent over her loss to Holm (and probably won’t ever be), she has found a way to see the silver lining in taking the first L of her UFC career. Despite what you might think, Rousey isn’t interested in being famous like some of her fellow UFC fighters (ahem), and according to her, she never wanted to be the person that the world put up on a pedestal to admire. So in a way, she says the loss to Holm freed her from the constraints she felt prior to the fight.
"That loss saved me from becoming what I hate," she said. "One of those people who live their lives to impress everyone else. Who put up a front for the world to admire. Who make sure every charitable act is posted and shared for their own image gain. Who posture and pose for people they care nothing about except for the opinion they have of them. I’m just getting my life back."
Rousey also told Shelburne that, prior to UFC 193, she fell into a trap that saw her saying "Yes!" to whatever the UFC asked her to do. It doesn’t sound like she necessarily regrets it, but she is glad that that part of her life is over.
"I was just trying to make too many people happy," she said. "But when I try and do favors and make everybody else happy, at the end of the day, they walk away happy and I’m the one who has to deal with the depression. All the pay-per-views in the world, all the money in the world, it means fucking nothing to me because I lost."
And speaking of money, Rousey was adamant that a paycheck is not what has driven her back into the Octagon. The money that comes along with being one of the biggest UFC stars is nice, but Rousey’s dream is one day buying a plot of land in Idaho or Alaska and, in her words, "popping out babies and making snowmen" with her boyfriend Travis Browne. Money, she says, is not the object.
"If money is the motivation, then fuck you," she said. "All these Money people…Money [Floyd] Mayweather, Money [Conor] McGregor. I see they’re trying to do an angle or whatever. People buy it. The worship of money in our society is so deep. But just because that’s the easiest way to keep people’s attention or entertain them doesn’t mean that’s the right way."
Rousey sounds ready to make her long-awaited return—and if she wins, it sounds like she’s already eyeing up a rematch with Holm, despite the fact that Holm has fallen on hard times herself in recent months. You can read Shelburne’s full story on Rousey’s comeback here.