Why the world’s best female fighter loves to be hated.
By: Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker
"When Ronda Rousey is training for a fight, she spends a week eating nothing but salty food. She wants to get bloated, so that when she eliminates salt from her diet, in the final days, her body expels all the fluid it can find. After a couple of steam baths, what remains of her weighs almost exactly a hundred and thirty-five pounds, the limit for the women’s bantamweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the sport once known as cage fighting and now known as mixed martial arts, the U.F.C. is the dominant company, and she has become its dominant personality, despite the fact that not long ago its president was promising never to promote a fight between women. Rousey is a former judo champion, and she won her first eight M.M.A. fights with a move known in judo as juji gatame, which can be painful to contemplate, let alone receive: it is a type of arm bar designed to hyperextend an opponent’s elbow, stretching ligaments, tearing the articular capsule, and even grinding away the bone if the opponent doesn’t concede quickly enough. Outside the cage, Rousey is genial but unapologetic about her capacity to inflict harm. When, recently, she submitted to a brief interview on 'American Idol,' Ryan Seacrest jokingly flinched as she greeted him. 'I don’t fight for free,' she said. 'Don’t worry.'”