Fresh on the heels of her ESPY win for "Best Fighter," UFC Champion and Olympic medalist Ronda Rousey is getting ready for her next big fight, and building her brand. Rousey, who was the first female fighter to sign with the UFC, is bullish on the whole business of mixed martial arts, or MMA.
"I believe that fighting is an innately human thing, and we live in a very bubble-wrapped society where every ounce of aggression is suppressed, and we need a health outlet for it. I really do believe that MMA isn't just exciting for every person to watch, it's also a useful thing for everyone to do."
She's long been considered a trailblazer for women in MMA and the UFC in particular. She said she's encouraged by the progress made in fixing the disparity between men and women in sports. "Every year that separation is closing," said Rousey. "We have a lot more work to do, but I'm very much encouraged by what I'm seeing."
And Rousey said the sport of MMA has been instrumental in addressing sexism and pushing gender equality.
"I think because MMA is such a young sport it's able to be the most innovative and most progressive when it comes to women. It's the first sport not to separate men from the women. When we start we're introduced as bantamweights or straw weights. There's no women's bantamweight or women's straw weight ... the men aren't introduced as men's welterweight, so the distinction has been removed and I think that's a very important step that's been taken, first by MMA before any other sport."
While Rousey trains to maintain her undefeated streak, she's also planning for a career in acting. She has a role in this year's "Entourage" movie and "Furious 7," and a Mark Wahlberg movie in the works. "The acting keeps me from burning out on fighting. The fighting keeps me from burning out from acting. If I do too much Hollywood stuff, then I start to be like, 'Ah, I can't wait to get back to the gym.' " Rousey said the juggle serves her well: "I think I'll be able to do both longer because I have something to balance it."
And her ambitions for acting are as grand as they are for fighting. "I want to be the first chick that's ... still be able to do a fight scene and a car chase and a high jump all in one long shot, with no stunt people," said Rousey. "I want to be able to be good at all of that. I want to be able to fill some space that no one's been able to fill in that industry too. I have a lot of work to do, but I want to do it."