If you haven't had a chance to read the introduction to my Girl Crush series, make sure to check it out here.
If you weren't one of the millions of people watching Ronda Rousey knock out Bethe Correia in a mere 34 seconds on Saturday night, I'll save you the time and give you a quick summary: Rousey sent a deadly right hand into Correia's temple and it was lights out. The fight received even more buzz after media outlets reported that Rousey told a defeated Correia 'not to cry' as she recovered consciousness.
But what many of those reports didn't include in their headlines was that Rousey was parroting her rival. “I said the exact same thing she was saying to me at weigh-ins; she was screaming in my face at weigh-ins, she was saying, ‘Don’t cry.’ So, I turned around after I knocked her out and said, ‘Don’t cry,'” Rousey said at UFC 190’s post-fight press conference. And after seeing these photos, that's not a hard story to believe...
While Saturday's fight was impressive, it is far from the only reason to add her to this list. As the first female fighter signed by UFC, it is Rousey's strength and athletic drive that have caught the attention of men and women around the world. Back in 2008, she was the first U.S. woman to take home an Olympic medal (she took home the bronze) in Judo. Her undefeated record speaks for itself, but Rousey fearless speaks about working hard and changing the "ideal" body type.
After Sports Illustrated named her the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world, Rousey said “if I was voted ‘The Sexiest Woman Alive,’ it wouldn’t make me nearly as happy...There’s a ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ every year. It’s once in a blue moon that you see a woman at the top of the pound-for-pound list.”
UFC President, Dana White, has publicly stated that he believes Rousey is leading a female revolution. “She’s changing the way we look at women,” White said. “And she’s changing the way women look at themselves, definitely little girls. When we were growing up, you were told, ‘You little girls play over here and boys play over here.’ Ronda Rousey smashes that whole thing.”
Beyond redefining 'playing like a girl' Rousey has gladly accepted her status as a sex symbol. “I’m comfortable with my sexuality. I needed good sexual role models when I was a teenager—that I felt I didn’t really have,” Rousey said in an interview with Yahoo! Beauty. “I was given a really unhealthy and unrealistic expectation of what I, as a woman, should look like. I want to be healthy example of what could be desirable.”
Rousey's diet is a perfect example of why men and women should focus on being healthy rather than traditional body standards. When she first began working with her nutrition coach, Mike Dolce, Rousey was eating 800 calories a day in order to lose weight. She drank black coffee and water while snacking on blueberries throughout the day and ate one meal each night. The result? She had low energy, took longer to heal and was always in a bad mood. Dolce told Sports Illustrated, "she was undernourished. She wasn’t eating nearly enough food—or getting the proper nutrition. So her body was actually breaking down her muscle tissue.”
Now Rousey eats six to eight small meals a day, consuming about 3,200 calories. Her coaches, her opponents and the audience can tell that she’s leaner, lighter and stronger than she has ever been.
Much like Danica Patrick and Serena Williams, Rousey is proving that women don't have to choose between being strong and being beautiful. As they pioneer the path into professional sports, one can only hope there will be more examples of happy, healthy female athletes to follow suit.