Ronda Rousey and Identity

Ronda Rousey

I don’t follow the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) and I’m not really a fan. But, it has been impossible not to be aware of who Ronda Rousey is. For some time she has been considered the greatest female fighter ever, was sporting an undefeated record, was making the crossover into acting and modeling, and there was even talk of trying to get her to fight a male opponent.

The hype around her transcended the MMA world.

Then she lost.

Shockingly. Unexpectedly. And it was the talk of the sports media for weeks.

Unknown to everyone but her inner circle (until recently), was the struggle that Ms. Rousey has had accepting this defeat.

She was experiencing a dark night of the soul.

And it gives a crystal clear picture of the power of source of identity.

In a recent interview on the Ellen Show, Ronda said:

I was literally sitting there and thinking about killing myself and that exact second I’m like, ‘I’m nothing, what do I do anymore and no one gives a s— about me anymore without this,

This quote is from an article in the Huffington Post and it contains a video of Ellen’s interview (available here: caution there is some explicit language).

When here invincible status was taken from her, notice her words.

“I’m nothing”

Her worth was gone and she was overtaken by shame, a feeling of worthlessness that had nothing to contradict it.

The perception of self that Ms. Rousey had was affected by what she knew others would think. People would move on. When people’s affirmation of you is based on victory, what happens when you lose?

Cheerleaders leave when there is nothing to cheer for.

If you read the article, Ronda eventually finds renewed sense of worth in her relationship with her boyfriend. Flight one of the responses in the shame cycle. Looking to something new to define self.

Having her boyfriend was a blessing to get her past thoughts of suicide, but relationships do not provide long term worth because they become expectation and performance based. What next if they break up?

What if her worth was based on something that would never change and would be secure regardless of performance?

Ronda Rousey was created to bear the image of God. She is valuable because God loves her enough that Jesus walked among us.

Dark nights of the soul need the True Light. My prayer for her is that her identity will rest on that solid foundation.

What aspects of yourself do you see in Ronda’s struggle with identity?


I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.

Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching,  speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.

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