Former UFC brawler Ronda Rousey loves life on quiet side

Updated August 5, 2018 - 4:42 pm

Rio the little goat thinks Ronda Rousey is his mom.

“I bottle-feed Rio and he does that goat thing where he shakes his little tail, goes cross-eyed and leans into me with that frothy milk mouth while he’s drinking. It’s the best thing in the world,” coos the pro wrestler, actress and former UFC women’s champion, who has sprawling property in Venice, California.

Rousey’s softer side is evident in her life on the farm she shares with her husband, UFC heavyweight Travis Browne.

“I just asked my husband for video of our ducks swimming in their kiddie pool this morning. Is that wrong?” Rousey, 31, asks with a warm laugh.

You won’t catch that side of her in the new film “Mile 22,” which stars Mark Wahlberg and in which she plays a government black ops operator.

Review-Journal: What is a great Sunday to you?

Rousey: I love to wake up in the morning with my amazing husband. I cook him breakfast with our farm fresh eggs that I’ll collect from our chickens. While I’m cooking, he feeds the rest of the animals. Then I really like to empty out the kiddie pond that we keep for the ducks. I clean the thing every single day and put in fresh water. It’s the happiest thing for me.

How many goats do you have?

We have five goats, and I’ll be so sad when my little Rio stops taking his bottle. We are trying to get them to form a pack, so we walk our goats across the property as one large group, plus the two of us. I call it Apocalypse Goat Training.

What was the lure of “Mile 22”?

What I really loved about this film was there are so many women involved in the action, and it’s not really a novelty. This is a story about people. Some of them happen to be women. Real progress is made when it becomes normal.

Has it been tough to make the transition to acting?

I’ve been studying acting for the past 12 years, but I still consider myself a student and new. I consider myself a student of so many things — and at all times. Being a student is a skill. All I want to do is apply myself and learn as quickly as possible. But what motivates me the most is learning things that I didn’t know yesterday. It’s just hard to learn something new with the world watching, although I love those kinds of challenges. I love people doubting me.

Who first inspired you?

My mother. When I was 8 or 9, I found a scrapbook in the closet. There were all these articles about my mother (AnnMaria De Mars) who was a judoka champion and the first American to win a world judo championship in 1984. I had no idea that my mom was the greatest fighter on Earth. At that moment, the idea of being the best at something was planted. To see a world champion walking through your living room made me think, “Whatever I want to do, I can be the best if I work really hard at it.” My mom became a champion while getting a Ph.D. in psychology, working as an engineer and raising three daughters as a single mom.

How do you handle disappointment, including that famous lost fight?

Mom taught me to never prepare for failure. She also said it’s fine to allow yourself to be heartbroken and to let it hurt. You also have to move on. In life, it’s very easy to protect yourself from disappointment by not allowing yourself to hope too much for something. The sad thing is most of us expect to be let down. I look at it this way: If the worst happens, I can take it. I will still throw myself into something 100 percent and make it the most important thing. If it doesn’t work out, then I know it will be OK. It’s easy for people to say, “Oh, I didn’t try that hard. I didn’t give it my best.” They don’t want to know that their best isn’t good enough. That’s a hard thing to face.

When you started acting, you were in “Expendables 3.” What did you learn from hanging out with some heavy-hitting actors?

Antonio Banderas was a great example of making everyone else comfortable. He knows he changes the room because he entered it. But he has the ability to make everyone relax and return the room to what it was before he walked in. Harrison Ford also taught me a lesson. He had this line: “Get these guys off my tail.” He kept saying, “Get these guys off my trail.” You would hear the director say, “I’m sorry, Mr. Ford. It’s tail.” It was just so cool to see him do several takes and mess up here and there. He was so calm. I learned that I’m not the worst human being on Earth if I mess up once in a while.

Ever consider that Sly, Antonio and Harrison thought it was cool to meet Ronda Rousey?

That never occurred to me.

Best advice to young people?

It’s not audacious to believe you can be the best.

Ever think of giving motivational speeches?

No, I swear too much. I’ll be quoting my mother and then in the next breath say something like, “Kill that (expletive)!”

Finally, you’ve made many a business trip to Sin City. What do you like to do in Vegas?

I love to eat. You have such great food in Vegas. I always call (UFC President) Dana (White) when I’m in town and command him to take me out to dinner. I’ll say, “Dana, I’m here. Let’s go eat!”

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