How Gaining 15 Pounds Made Fighter Ronda Rousey Feel More Beautiful (2024)

How Gaining 15 Pounds Made Fighter Ronda Rousey Feel More Beautiful (1)

You don't have to be into fighting to look up to Ronda Rousey.The undefeated UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion recently took home the ESPY for Best Female Athlete (beating out Serena Williams, skier Lindsey Vonn, and UConn basketball player Breanna Stewart) and Best Fighter — a category that included four male nominees.

If you don't know Ronda's moves from the ring, you might recognize the 28-year-old fromThe Expendables 3, Furious 7, or the Entourage movie (where she played herself) recently talked to Rouseyabout body image, her greatest fear, and what she likes to do in her downtime.

You said that you purposefully tried to gain weight and get out of your best fighting shape before stripping down to pose for the 2015 Sports Illustratedswimsuit edition. Why?
I felt like I was much too small for a magazine that is supposed to be celebrating the epitome of a woman. I wanted to be at my most feminine shape, and I don't feel my most attractive at 135 pounds, which is the weight I fight at. At 150 pounds, I feel like I'm at my healthiest and my strongest and my most beautiful.

Considering the amazing shape you're in, it's hard to believe that you ever suffered from body image issues while you were growing up, but you did. What was that like for you?
I grew up as an athlete doing judo, so I didn't really have a conventional, feminine body type.I grew up thinking that because my body type was uncommon [i.e.,athletic], it was a bad thing. Now that I'm older, I've really begun to realize that I'm really proud that my body has developed for a purpose and not just to be looked at.

But to be honest, it took a lot of time to develop a healthier relationship with food and with my weight. My mind was backward. I thought I wanted my body to look a certain way so I could be happy. But it got to the point where I didn't feel I looked good at 135 pounds, the weight that qualifies me for the weight class that I fight in. [Ed. note: Professional fighters like Ronda train crazy hard to "weigh into" the lowest possible weight class right before a competition. This permits them to go up against similar-sizeopponents, which increases their odds of winning.]

How Gaining 15 Pounds Made Fighter Ronda Rousey Feel More Beautiful (4)

Now I only try to maintain my fighting weight for a couple hours a year — right before weigh-ins.Afterward, I maintain a weight where I'm not starving or feeling weak, which makes me happier.

How Gaining 15 Pounds Made Fighter Ronda Rousey Feel More Beautiful (6)

You've said that you want to show people the non-fighter side of you. What's that side like?I don't talk as much. I like to sit and listen to everything going on in the room, and I don't move off the couch. My life is so active, and I'm fighting the whole day that I don't have any aggressiveness or any energy outside of fighting. I'm the most chill couch potato you could ever meet. I just like to hang out with my dog and watch Planet Earth documentaries, playTaichi Panda[laughs]. I'm actually really lame, to be honest. I don't party at all, and I'm pretty lame to hang out with.

You sound pretty docile — but have you ever used your punching powers outside the ring?
Yes, but not for a very long time. I've reached that point where if I hit anyone, I'm going to get sued.

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Is there anything that you're scared of?
Failure. I'm scared of failure so much more than any of the other girls I compete againstthat I work so much harder than they possibly could. I'm totally down with spiders and frogs and heights and snakes — everything, I'm cool with it. But I have such a huge fear of failure that I go to bed every night thinking about all the possible ways that I can succeed. It's an endless loop of, "I have to make it work. I have to succeed. I have to work. I have to win."And it's that fear that makes me work harder even though I'm already on top.

How do you define failure? Is it just losing a fight?
That's the purest form — and in fighting, that's the one thing that really matters the most to me. I want to be the one that retires undefeated and on top and has that legacy, and I believe that I'm the one that can get it done. I might make an investment and lose some money, but that's something I can recover from. There's no way to recover after tarnishing an undefeated record.

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How do you draw the line between success and failure in your personal life?
If I go to bed happy at the end of the day, thenthat's success. If I go to bed sad, thenI guess that's failure. And in my personal life, I've actually been going to bed happy every single night lately, and I feel pretty successful right now.

You recently snubbed Floyd Mayweather at the ESPYs, calling him out for his history of domestic violence. Do you think he should be allowed to fight, considering his record?
Ithink that he should be allowed to fight; Ithink that fighting is unrelated to your personal life. One of my favorite boxers of all time was Edwin Valero, and he ended up killing his wife and kid, which is a terrible thing. If you look at it just from an athletic standpoint, he was still one of the greatest boxers ever. I can't deny that.

Rouseyfights Bethe Correia on Saturday, August 1, at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tune in on pay-per-view at 10p.m. ET/ 7p.m. PT.

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Elizabeth Narins

Senior fitness and health editor

Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and a former senior editor at, where she wrote about fitness, health, and more. Follow her at @ejnarins.

How Gaining 15 Pounds Made Fighter Ronda Rousey Feel More Beautiful (2024)
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