By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer
Ronda Rousey has single-handedly turned female mixed martial arts (MMA) into a popular sport, thanks to a long-time undefeated record, movie star appeal, and a winning attitude. However, in her sixth title defense last weekend, Rousey fell to Holly Holm’s knockout kick.
Still, no one can deny fighting is in Rousey’s blood, since her mother is AnnMaria De Mars, who became the first American citizen to ever win a World Judo Championship back in 1984. De Mars set a very high bar for her daughter, earning master’s degrees in business and education, while excelling as a math professor, technology executive, and author. Talk about brains and brawn!
Rousey was born on February 1, 1987 in Riverside, California, where she overcame a difficult childhood marred by speech problems and the tragic loss of her father’s life. That didn’t stop her from rising up as a judo champion, winning gold medals at the Pan American Championships, and scoring a 2008 Olympic bronze. She took down countless opponents in the ring for the MMA organization Strikeforce, before joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as its first female fighter in 2012. Before Holm nabbed her crown, she was the UFC bantamweight champion of the world, a division with an upper weight limit of 135 pounds At least she’s still the highest paid UFC fighter!
Her natural charisma and sense of humor also helped Rousey land action film roles in The Expendables 3 and Furious 7, and she’s been invited to popular talk shows like Ellen and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Last month, she became the first-ever female athlete to co-anchor SportsCenter on ESPN! It’s safe to say Rousey’s superstardom doesn’t show any signs of fading away, although she’ll definitely need to practice hardcore to stage a comeback win.
Featured image courtesy of Ronda Rousey Instagram. Image of Holly Holm courtesy of UFC.