These days the most compelling question when discussing Ronda Rousey -- aside from whether or not she’ll fight Cris "Cyborg" Justino at some distant point in the future -- is if she’ll ultimately defect to Hollywood. The trailblazer for that trajectory was Gina Carano, who put women’s MMA on the map in the late aughts only to segue to the silver screen.
Today Carano is contemplating a return to MMA after five years away (possibly to fight Rousey). And Rousey, the UFC’s first ever women’s bantamweight champion whom Dana White considers the company’s biggest star, is reciting dialogue from scripts in-between title defenses.
Since debuting in the UFC against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, Rousey has scored roles in Fast and Furious 7 and The Expendables 3. She’ll also cameo in the movie version of the popular HBO show Entourage, which comes out in 2015.
So, will she follow in the footsteps of Carano and leave mixed martial arts at some point to focus on Hollywood? One of her co-stars from Entourage, Jerry Ferrera -- a.k.a. "Turtle" on the show -- doesn’t think so. He appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, and said Rousey bleeds fighting.
"I don’t ever want to speak for Ronda, I got to know her while we’re shooting, but I don’t know her all that well…but the impression I got is, she is not going anywhere," the 34-year old Brooklyn-born actor told Ariel Helwani. "Ronda is a fighter, and everything that we talked about was [acting’s] great, as long as I don’t have a fight coming up.
"When that girl’s fighting, she’s fighting, and nothing else exists to her. She’s one of the more focused, driven people I’ve ever met and it’s almost like this was her night gig and fighting’s her day job. She’s a fighter. She’s not going anywhere. She loves fighting too much. That’s the impression I got. She’s not going anywhere."
Ferrara didn’t shed light on the role that Rousey plays, but did say that it was centered on his character, leaving things to be inferred. He’s long been a fight fan, and has recently began training jiu-jitsu with Ryron Gracie in California ("I am literally like a blank piece of clay right now," he said as to his progress).
He’ll also play the boxer Arturo Gatti in an upcoming role.
When asked how Rousey’s acting chops were, Ferrara said that she was dishearteningly good.
"You know what? This has happened a couple of times," he said. "Years ago we had Tom Brady on the show and he was very good. And now we have Ronda on the show, and Ronda was very good. So, what happens to me is we get these cameos of athletes who are very, very good at what they do and they became famous for that reason, and when they come to work on the show, in my mind I’m saying, ‘well, alright, at least I know I’m a better actor.’
"And then Ronda comes on and kills it, so I’m like wow -- you can beat me up, and you can possibly out act me? What are we going to play, chess? I’ve got to beat you at something."
Ferrara said that Rousey arrived halfway through shooting and brought not only a spark of enthusiasm to the set -- "fresh legs," he said, using sports patois -- but a sense of awe that could be felt amongst his castmates.
"She’s really, really funny," he said. "That girl has a great sense of humor, and she was very patient with my probably idiotic fan boy questions that I had for her.
"I was blown away. She’s a very, very impressive person besides just an impressive fighter."