UFC fighter, actor and author Ronda Rousey appears at 7 p.m., Thursday , May 28, at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. Admission is $27.95 and includes two tickets and one hardback copy of “My Fight/Your Fight.” More information at RainyDayBooks.com.
Ronda Rousey: “The world’s most dominant athlete.”
That’s the consensus of a cover story this month in Sports Illustrated about the UFC bantamweight champion, who is parlaying her undefeated status into a level of fame that eclipses all previous mixed martial arts fighters.
Appearances in the movies “Furious 7” and the coming “Entourage” are bolstering her commercial appeal. The Riverside, Calif., native is the all-around definition of a knockout.
Rousey’s upbringing, observations and tactics are revealed in “My Fight/Your Fight,” a new autobiography she wrote with her journalist sister, Maria Burns Ortiz. The page-turner covers her rocky and “Rocky”-ish backstory, from family tragedy to an Olympic medal in judo to her daunting string of victories (she settled her most recent title fight in 14 seconds).
Calling The Star from Jacksonville, Fla., the 28-year-old Rousey still finds herself adjusting to a career that a mere five years ago seemed completely improbable for the former bartender.
“I’m laying down in a limo. I’m looking at the mirror on the ceiling. It’s pretty comfy,” she says. “The novelty has not worn off, and I hope it never does.”
Q. As the “world’s most dominant athlete,” is there a sport you’re really bad at?
A. Anything that involves throwing a ball. I’m good at throwing people, but I can’t throw things at other things. I’m really good at shooting a gun. I know I have aim. But I can’t throw. My coach had me do beach drills where I had to throw rocks. It was all he could do to not laugh in my face.
You are on your way to becoming a best-selling author. What authors do you enjoy reading?
Right now I’m reading the “Game of Thrones” series. I’m on “Clash of Kings” now. I just finished “The Maze Runner” series and “Hyperbole and a Half.” I dip in and out of different books and theories. I go on recommendations. It’s not like I keep my fingers crossed for certain authors — except for Orson Scott Card. “Ender’s Game” is my favorite book of all time.
What have people told you is the most surprising revelation in “My Fight/Your Fight?”
A lot of things are surprising. But my taste in men is really surprising.
Your entrance song is Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” What’s the worst entrance song you’ve ever heard used by another fighter?
Probably when Miesha Tate came out to Katy Perry. It was that “Roar” song. I’m not against Katy Perry, but come on. There are certain situations for Katy Perry, like when you throw your 12-year-old sister a surprise birthday party.
What is an assumption about professional fighters that is typically wrong?
That we’re just a bunch of mindless, brawling thugs. We’re actually artists and athletes.
Aside from judo, you’ve trained in a lot of styles. Are there any you’ve come across that are too impractical or ineffective to be used in the Octagon?
Everything I do is practical. I haven’t gone to try and learn from a Tai Chi master or anything like that. And there are some things that are practical for me, but they’re impractical in the sport in general.
Your signature finishing move is the armbar. What’s the best way to get out of one?
There are thousands of ways to get out of one. There’s no best one. There’s no end-all move. There’s no video game cheat where you can press up-up-down and have a one-hand kill shot. Every other escape is valid in its own right, and there’s a response to every escape. My opponents try all the escapes, but I come up with the responses so fast. They can’t think as fast as I do.
You said in an interview, “I don’t need to lose in order to grow anymore.” What do you need to do in order to grow?
My mom says all the time, “It’s much better to learn from a win than a loss.” I study my own footage more than my opponents’. I scour every moment to look for a single mistake I can correct. Instead of saying, “I won. I’m awesome” and walk away and forget about it, I’m a huge perfectionist. I’m always looking for the tiniest error I can correct.”
Did you watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight?
I was actually diagnosed with pneumonia the day before. I was supposed to be there (in Las Vegas). I tried to watch it from my couch. I was on three different medications that cause drowsiness. I fell asleep three times, maybe four.
I think a lot of people fell asleep. How long would Mayweather last in the Octagon with you?
I don’t know, man. If he ever gives me a call. People can keep wondering what would happen. But they’ll never see it.
What can you tell me about your role in “Entourage?”
“I’m just myself. You’ve got to go see the movie. I don’t want to give too much away; I’m new in this business. I don’t know what will get me in trouble and what won’t.”
Personally, do you have your own entourage?
A little bit. I’ve got a “Rontourage.” Like you’ve seen in the trailer, (the cast) comes to my gym. And a lot of my actual teammates and my coach are there. It was kind of cool to have my whole team take over the set for a day.
What’s the greatest sacrifice you’ve had to make to sustain your career in fighting?
The time I spend with my family. It takes a lot of time to maintain all this. I keep telling myself that I’m working so that when I’m older I have all the time in the world. I don’t have to worry about anything. I can work if I want to but not have to.
You talk about how the shorter the fights are, the longer you’ll be able to fight. Do you have an age limit in mind for when you would realistically stop competing?
No. I just play it by ear. I fight the fights. I’ve had enough crazy things happen to me where I’ve learned not to plan too far ahead. There were times I thought I would already be done by now. In 2010, I thought I’d be getting ready to retire now. I’m still nowhere near it.
Jon Niccum is a filmmaker, freelance writer and author of “The Worst Gig: From Psycho Fans to Stage Riots, Famous Musicians Tell All.”