Friday was an exciting day for CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. Why? Because the show has hosted numerous UFC personalities in the past – including Dana White, Chris Weidman and Jon Jones – but it had never hosted Ronda Rousey, arguably the most recognizable fighter in mixed martial arts.
Well, that changed Friday. Rousey, who will defend her bantamweight championship against Cat Zingano at UFC 184 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, dropped by the show for a couple of minutes.
Tiki Barber opened the segment by asking Rousey (10-0) whether she is aware that she is responsible for women competing in UFC, whether she is aware that she is a pioneer.
“Well, I try not to think about it too much,” Rousey said. “It’s not like I wake up in the morning and I go, ‘Oh, I feel very pioneer-y today.’ But I don’t know. I wanted a job that didn’t exist, and so it had to be created somehow. I wasn’t thinking about, ‘Oh, I’m going to change the world today.’ It was, ‘I see these guys fight on TV, and I think I could really be amazing at that.’”
She was right. Rousey, 28, has dismantled every woman put in front of her. Nine of her 10 fights haven’t made it past the first round.
“The ultimate goal is to be the perfect, most well-rounded mixed martial artist,” Rousey said. “But there’s so much to it. It’s one of those impossible goals. You’re never the best you can possibly be. You could always be better. There’s so many disciplines that go into mixed martial arts. (There are) countless different disciplines that come together, and finding a way to piece them all together is an art in itself. So there’s always room to improve.”
Rousey will need to be in top form Saturday night against Zingano, who will be the stiffest competition of her career.
“She’s definitely the most dangerous opponent I’ve had yet,” Rousey admitted. “She’s 9-0 and . . . most of her finishes come in a pretty brutal fashion. She gets a lot of muay tai-style finishes with knees to the head and elbows. She really damages and cuts up her opponents a lot of the time. But she also has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and started out wrestling. So she’s the most well-rounded, the strongest, the most durable chick that I’ve ever come across. There’s been a lot of times in fights where she’s been behind, but every single time – every single time she’s ever been behind – she’s come back and finished the other person. She’s somebody not that you just have to beat, but you have to beat entirely to the very, very end.”
Rousey, believe it or not, was a swimmer in her youth. She competed until the age of 10 and then switched to judo. Her first tournament came on her 11th birthday, and by 17 she was a U.S. Olympian. She won a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Her mother, AnnMaria De Mars, has been quite proud of her daughter, in part because she was a pioneer in her own right.
“I’m never as cool as my mother,” Rousey said. “She got a perfect score on the SATs (and) graduated college at 19. She was getting her Ph.D., a single mother working as an engineer and won the judo world championships all at the same time.”
In addition to fighting, Rousey is a model and actress and starred in The Expendables 3. She intends to fight for a long time, but she’s also wants to lay the foundation for her next career – which is something she didn’t do as an Olympian. Winning a medal is a great thing, but it doesn’t guarantee you a job or a scholarship.
“I had a bronze medal and a handshake and didn’t know what to do with myself,” Rousey said. “I’m not making that mistake again. I love fighting, and I want to fight as long as I can, but you have a short shelf life in this sport. I don’t want to be left without any goals when I’m done. I’m kind of preparing myself to embark on a whole other quest when this fighting one is finished.”
Rousey was asked which actor she had the most fun with while shooting The Expendables 3.
“I had to do this long casino fight scene with Antonio Banderas, and he was just an absolute joy to be around,” she said. “I had so much fun working with him. He definitely made it a quick and easy day.”
Rousey is hoping for the same result Saturday. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET.