Ronda Rousey reveals history of concussions, shares joys of motherhood in new memoir


(NEW YORK) — Ronda Rousey, UFC champion, shares her story in her new book, Our Fight: A Memoir. The book reflects on her rise to the top of the sports world, her lowest moments and the lessons she learned along the way.

In her memoir, Rousey recalls dealing with concussions for a decade. She had to change her fighting style to prevent getting hit and, until now, she remained silent about the details of her struggles.

Rousey also opens up about her journey into motherhood and her fervent desire to shield her family from the public eye. In her book she admits to becoming “addicted” to the online world, a struggle which, at times, drew her focus away from her family.

Rousey is a former judoka and mixed martial artist who became a professional wrestler and actress. She became the first American woman to win a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

She sat down with ABC News Live to discuss her family, her career and reveal where she’s currently working as an intern.

ABC NEWS LIVE: She has been described as the world’s most dominant athlete, knocking out barriers and setting records. In her new memoir, “Our Fight,” UFC and WWE champion Ronda Rousey chronicles her journey to the top and back from her lowest point as she reflects on the losses and the lessons experienced along the way. Joining us now is UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey. Thank you so much for being with us.

RONDA ROUSEY: Thank you for having me and for such a kind introduction.

ABC NEWS: Oh, no, it is a pleasure. And I read a lot of this book over the weekend. I was, I was gripped by it. You are already a bestselling author. You have dabbled in acting. You are obviously a Hall of Famer. What made you want to come out and write this book now? I know you say you wanted to be in your own words.

ROUSEY: Yeah, I just had so many things I couldn’t talk about until now, namely my concussion history. Where in my judo career out of like ten years, I had concussion symptoms more often than not. This is before all the research about CTE and everything was out.

And so by the time that I got into MMA, every time you get a concussion, it’s easier to get another one. And, I quickly discovered in MMA any kind of significant strike, I’d be seeing stars, getting concussion symptoms. So I had to develop a system of fighting that was more efficient than anything I had ever seen before. So I would not get, not get touched at all because I just knew I couldn’t take that kind of damage. And, it just continued to get worse and worse.

You know, I, I had matches, I was winning in less than a minute, you know, 16, 14 seconds. But there’s 50 rounds of sparring that goes into every one of those matches. And, it started to get to the point where, like the lightest jabs or touches were giving me concussion symptoms.

And then, it all came to a head, right before the home fight. I slipped down some stairs, knocked myself out, tore out my knee, went into that that, that match already concussed and, had had the wrong mouth guard. It was like the terrible, horrible, no good day.

ABC NEWS: A confluence of bad factors, yeah.

ROUSEY: My mouth guard didn’t have, like, a back to the bottom teeth. And the first time I got touched all like my, all my bottom teeth got knocked loose and I was, I was completely out on my feet and concussed. And, I basically like I, it’s hard to describe what it’s like. It’s like you have photo vision. Like someone just took a picture of you, like, there’s big splotches in your vision. And like, the world is, like, two dimensional, like you can’t see distance between things.

And so, the whole fight, I was just trying to come forward because I can’t really go backward.

ABC NEWS: Do you feel like your industry took the concussion seriously enough at the time?

ROUSEY: I think they did. So much so that I didn’t want to say anything to my my coach or Dana about it because I thought they would make me stop and I wasn’t ready to stop. I thought I could just continue to be perfect forever, that I could continue to win without being touched forever.

ABC NEWS: One of the things that is so touching about this book is your vulnerability. We see this beautiful picture of you on the back of your book with your daughter in an embrace. How has motherhood changed this chapter of your life?

ROUSEY: It’s just changed my perspective on so many things and so many frivolous things that I would let myself be consumed with. She doesn’t let me.

And she puts in perspective what, what’s really important. And that’s her. And it’s hard for me to, like, ruminate and dwell on things when I’m getting, like, puked on and getting my hair pulled. The cutest thing I’ve ever seen is happening in front of me at the same time. So she she forces me to be in the present, which is what I, I learned is what I need to appreciate the most.

ABC NEWS: It seems like nature has such a central role for you and healing. I know that in the book you talk about how your husband whisked you away to a campsite when you were at your lowest point. So has farming sort of brought out some resilience in you and a different side of you?

ROUSEY: I think it’s just, it’s something that’s self validating and it makes me happy without anyone having to see it and appreciate it. And it’s nothing that I feel like I’m pandering to anyone or trying to impress anyone. I’m just trying to make these, these animals’ day a little bit better, their lives better, and give them a life worth living and, you know, feed my family and help the the land that they’re on. And it’s just, a virtuous circle where, you know, it’s, and just the act in itself is a reward.

ABC NEWS: I can’t let you go without asking what comes next. Now you have two books. Your multi-hyphenate and so many industries. What’s next?

ROUSEY: Oh, God. Oh, we get into it in the book a little bit because I wrote this. And the first one, with my sister, I’ve gotten like, more into creative writing and stuff like that. So I started writing screenplays just for fun.

My my mom would write fantasy novels as a hobby when since forever, and would give them to us to read. And it was such like a fascinating, fascinating insight into her. And you read that, you’re like, oh my God, this is so mom.

And so, I’ve started writing a lot creatively. I’m an intern at the WME story department. I like read and write coverages of scripts and things. And my first comic book is coming out soon, and, it’s just stuff that I really enjoy and I’m a big nerd for. And it’s not something to, to impress anybody. But the act in itself is so rewarding for me. So I do it.

ABC NEWS: Well, thank you so much. You’re such a beacon of strength for so many out there. Ronda Rousey’s book “Our Fight,” her memoir, is out tomorrow. I suggest you go and get it.

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