Ronda Rousey, the UFC champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist judoka, detailed extreme experiences at the 2007 World Judo Championships and developing a “pot-and-Vicodin habit” after the Beijing 2008 Games in reports quoting her book, “My Fight/Your Fight,” to be released Tuesday.
Before rising to stardom as a UFC fighter, Rousey competed in judo at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She took her first global championship medal, a silver, at the 2007 Worlds in Rio de Janeiro.
Rousey detailed her experience in Rio in an explicit book excerpt published by Jezebel:
“I woke up ready to kill somebody,” Rousey wrote.
She went on to recall having to lose one pound to make weight on the morning of weigh-ins and competition, and then each of her fights, including in the quarterfinals against Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, the biggest rival to 2012 U.S. Olympic champion Kayla Harrison.
“The arena had been steadily filling up and was now closing in on three-quarters full,” Rousey wrote, according to Jezebel. “In contrast to the Japanese fans with their cheer coordinator, the Brazilian fans were the complete opposite. Unadulterated pandemonium. The Brazilians were the craziest, most passionate crowd I had ever experienced. They were blaring blow horns and flying flags. One section was covered by a massive Brazilian flag the fans were holding up.
“They booed me as I walked onto the mat, chanting ‘You’re gonna die’ in Portuguese. I noted the noise, assessing the impact it might have on the referees. I was going to have to win more definitively. Up against the roar of the crowd, I took her to the mat and pinned her for ippon with thirty seconds left on the clock. The Brazilian fans booed me viciously as I walked off the mat.”
Rousey went on to write that one of her elbows was dislocated by a semifinal opponent, whom Rousey ended up beating before losing to France’s Gevrise Emane in the final.
“The world championship had slipped through my fingers,” Rousey wrote, according to Jezebel. “Every time I closed my eyes, even to blink, I saw Émane throwing her arms in the air in jubilation. I had no one to blame but myself. I had let it come down to points. I had failed. It hurt to breathe.
“After the competition had ended for the day, I walked up into the stands where the crowd had been cheering for me so loudly hours before. I had to call my mom back home, but I couldn’t do it yet. Making that call would require finding the strength to say: I lost. My gut twisted. I climbed to the very top of the seats. The arena was nearly empty. I settled myself at the end of a row of seats, up against a corner, pulled my knees up to my chest, and cried harder than I ever had since Dad died.”
The next year, Rousey fell in the Olympic quarterfinals to the same opponent who she said dislocated her elbow in the Worlds semis — the Netherlands’ Edith Bosch.
Rousey advanced through the repechage to earn bronze in Beijing.
Afterward, she wanted a year off “to party,” she wrote, according to the New York Post, which reported Rousey “began smoking and drinking heavily, often beginning her day with a cigarette and a vodka espresso. She developed a pot-and-Vicodin habit.”
Rousey eventually quit judo under less-than-ideal circumstances before she took up mixed martial arts and became the dominant champion she is today.