Olympian Rousey on fire in MMA

Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey remembers how happy she was to pick up $800 from her first professional fight in mixed martial arts.

Eurosport

Then again, $800 for 25 seconds' work is not to be sneezed at.

A judo bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympics, Rousey became the new face of women's MMA after ripping the bantamweight title from Miesha Tate's grasp in March. It was tough for Tate to hang onto anything after Rousey dislocated her elbow.

The 25-year-old American explained it had been hard to scratch out a living when she first got started in the sport.

"I made $800 out of it," she said of her professional debut last March. "But that was a hell of a lot more than I made for my first three amateur fights because I got nothing.

"I was just happy I was getting anything from MMA after doing it without making a penny."

Rousey's rise in the sport has been rapid.

She was handed a Strikeforce title shot against fellow American Tate after just four pro bouts, none of which lasted more than 49 seconds. Her three amateur fights lasted a total of 104 seconds.

All seven fights ended the same way: Rousey submitting her opponents by armbar.

It would take Rousey longer to beat Tate, but after 4:27 of the first round she clamped Tate's arm between her legs, leaned back, raised her hips and cranked the arm until the bones in Tate's elbow joint popped out of place.

Strikeforce figures showed she earned $32,000 for the title fight, including a $17,000 win bonus.

Rousey said the threat of injury in MMA gave her little cause for concern. As a fourth degree judo black belt there had been plenty of opportunities to get hurt.

"People had just as much of a chance to hurt me in judo as they do in MMA. It doesn't faze me or scare me because I grew up doing it. Speaking in a room full of people is probably more daunting to me than fighting in a room full of people."

Rousey believes the talent in women's MMA is the highest it has ever been, but accepts there is much work to do to lift it anywhere near the level of exposure male athletes get

"Our sport is still very much in its infancy but I only expect it to keep growing," she added. "It's more of a struggle for women to get the same respect guys do in anything, be it sports or piano playing or comedy, in the business world.

"Everything takes more work if you're a woman, but instead of whining about it I'm just going to do the work."

While her performances in the cage have put her firmly in the spotlight, Rousey feels no pressure to construct a media-friendly image to win over more fans.

She speaks her mind, seems to enjoy the mind games before fights and took trash-talking to new highs in the build-up to her title fight with Tate.

"All I can really do is fight the best that I can and be myself, I'm not going to create this fake identity that is some fictitious good role model.

"There are times I swear and times I express my opinion which might not be very popular, and if that makes me a bad role model then so be it," Rousey said.

However, there was one person she did want to set an example for.

"I have the burden of having a little sister who thinks I'm the coolest thing since sliced bread and that really makes me take a second look, because everything I do she thinks is cool," she said of her 14-year-old sister Julia.

"When I think about being a role model I think about how I want my little sister to see me. I want my little sister to be able to speak her mind and swear when its appropriate."

While her sister had tried judo and was now a budding soccer player, Rousey had no intention of tempting her back into combat sport or trying out MMA.

"I don't feel the need to force her to go get punched in the face like her big sister."

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