“My Fight/Your Fight” Book Review: “I will never be okay with losing”
UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey (11-0) didn’t speak for the first few years of her life. Some would say she’s made up for it since then, for Rousey is a polarizing figure who tends to say whatever she’s thinking. This tendency can be hair-raising at a dinner party, but it’s put to good use in Rousey’s My Fight/Your Fight (Regan Arts).
The memoir, cowritten by her sister Maria Burns Ortiz, is framed as a self-help book, with every chapter purporting to teach the reader a life lesson. Sometimes the narrative has to be hammered to fit into this framing, but for the most part it works, and makes the book a page-turning chronological journey of Rousey’s life.
“I cannot stand point fighters. Points fighting is cowardly. Points fighting is fighting without honor. If you’re fighting for points, you’re not fighting at all.”
The suicide of Rousey’s father, a man burdened by incredible, chronic pain due to an accident, was a watershed moment in her life. There are real emotions as she tells of his death and funeral, and the folded American flag handed to her mother, who kept it folded until the day thirteen years later when Rousey won her Bronze Olympic Medal in Judo.
The best parts of the book show the sacrifice and mental and physical endurance it takes to be an elite Olympic athlete, and the lack of support given Olympic athletes in non-marquee sports, something that hasn’t improved very much since Steve Prefontaine brought the issue to the media in the early 70’s. Rousey tells us how she earned that medal because of the discipline her Judo “Tiger Mother” taught her, and the fire that burned like an inferno in her belly.
“I’m not undefeated because I had the perfect circumstances leading up to every fight. I’m undefeated because, regardless of circumstances, I still win.”
MMA fans will likely be interested in all of this, as well as reading about Rousey’s struggle with bulimia, too much partying, and a string of bad boyfriends. But what they probably really want to know is how Rousey jumped from the Judo mat to the UFC Octagon, what her training is like, her Hollywood adventures, and the dirt on Rousey’s opponents. The book delivers all of this.
She outlines her training and nutrition in a chapter dedicated to her fight camps.
She admits enjoying playing the heel.
Stallone thinks she’s badass.
She really, really hates Miesha Tate (16-5).
“I looked down at the blue tape on my gloves. I was fighting out of the blue corner… the challenger’s corner. The red corner’s reserved for the champion, the favorite. I knew it was going to be the last time I ever wore blue gloves.”
We never really discover why she dislikes Tate so much, even after pages of saying why she does. Everyone has that one person they just cannot stand, and Miesha Tate is that person for Rousey.
She gets points for realizing her time on The Ultimate Fighter would make her look bad, but gets a penalty for blaming all of her actions as reactions to Tate. Any watcher of reality shows knows the editing monkeys get up to tricks to direct the plot they want, but this was Rousey’s show, and the UFC had nothing to gain by painting her as difficult. It’s ironic Tate is given such importance in the last third of the book, an irony perhaps lost on Rousey.
“I was surprised not just by the (ESPN Body Issue) cover, but by the version of myself staring back at me. I looked beautiful.”
Even though “My Fight/Your Fight” is often brutally honest, it’s not always terribly introspective. It would have been nice for Rousey to touch on some of her more controversial comments, especially those concerning transgender fighter Fallon Fox and her tweets suggesting the Sandy Hook school shootings were a false flag operation. A memoir is by definition the events the author feels are important to their life, it isn’t an exhaustive biography, and these controversies are apparently not important to Rousey. Still, she has done herself a disservice in not explaining her point of view concerning these issues.
“I will never be okay with losing, but losing in the wrong way, losing with regret, can take your pride away. I’ve never chosen to lose that way.”
Only the passage of time will tell if Ronda Rousey is the Greatest of All Time, but there’s a legitimate case to be made to declare her the GOAT of this period of WMMA’s history, and “My Fight/Your Fight” is a respectable chronicle of that history.
Scorecard: 4 out of 5 rounds.
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