Ronda Rousey spent a few minutes with SI.com on Thursday evening:
SI.com: Nature vs. nurture is a debate among psychologists. Are we born a certain way, or are we shaped by the way we're brought up? I raise this subject with you because you were born to a woman who was an elite athlete, so it's in your genes, but your mom also raised you. So how much of your success was upbringing, and how much was your destiny?
Rousey: I don't really think it was destined, because my sisters didn't do sports to the extent that I did. They weren't really that interested. But I was interested, and that's why my mom invested the time and energy. I was predisposed to have the physical abilities to do this, maybe more so than other kids. But my mom, in addition to being a champion, has a Ph.D. in psychology, and I was given a helpful environment. So yeah, I benefitted greatly from circumstances outside my control, but ultimately the decision to pursue this was mine.
SI.com: You mention both the physical side of competing and the mental. How do you weigh each factor's importance when an athlete is competing at the highest level?
Rousey: People say it's 90 percent mental because everybody at this level is in amazing shape. So it comes down to who can best use their physically refined body. In fighting, the best is not the one who's strongest or jumps the highest; if that were the case, we'd have a bunch of bodybuilders and long jumpers in there. You have to be at a high tier of physical ability, but what separates all those high-tier physical specimens is the mental part.
SI.com: One aspect of your mental game that I've heard you talk about is your ability to compete with no emotion.
Rousey: Yes, when I step in the cage, I have no 10-minutes-ago or 10-minutes-from-now, I'm entirely in the present. I'm just observing everything, with no opinion. I have no emotion.
SI.com: Is maintaining that going to be harder for you than ever this time? Have you ever competed against anyone you disliked as strongly as you dislike Miesha?
Rousey: There were plenty of people in judo who I didn't like and I fought all the time. I've been competing since I was 11 years old. This isn't my first rodeo. And ever since I was a little kid, I've always had rivals. There was another kid in my age division, and we always fought each other in the finals. And if I was at a tournament, and that other kid wasn't there, I would actually be less focused and perform not as well.
SI.com: OK, before I let you go, one more thing. I've heard that after you won your Olympic medal in judo but before your MMA career got started, you worked as a bartender. So a man walks in your bar and says to you, "Mix me a Miesha Tate." What are you putting in his glass?
Rousey: [Laughs.] Well, there was one customer who always was very, very rude, and never tipped me. And he always demanded a chilled glass for his beer. So I would take this cup, spit in it, rub the spit around, and put it in the refrigerator to let it chill. Then I'd pour him a beer into his chilled spit cup.
SI.com: So we're calling that drink a Miesha Tate?
Rousey: It's spit and beer.