Ronda Rousey had about a successful of a 2014 campaign as one could ask for. The UFC women's bantamweight champion defended her title twice, stopping Sara McMann on a two-month turnaround, then blasting through Alexis Davis with one of the most phenomenal 16-second knockouts you'll ever see. Yet it was outside of the Octagon that Rousey truly became a star, landing blockbuster roles in a slew of Hollywood films and securing lucrative endorsement deals from major brands and fashion standouts alike.
So after all of that, what could she possibly have planned for 2015?
"Well this is kind of a colorful way to say it," Rousey said on a Wednesday conference call. "But if 2014 was like it was my bitch, then 2015 is going to look like my bitch's bitch."
Rousey laughed at the silliness of her sentiment, but it was clear she meant it.
Her road starts on Feb. 28 at UFC 184, where Rousey finally meets undefeated contender Cat Zingano, the women she was supposed to coach against on The Ultimate Fighter 18. Rousey will do so coming off a six-month layoff, during which she underwent some general structural housekeeping, allowing time for her broken thumb to heal and undergoing a knee scope that the UFC champ says she's needed for several years.
"You have to remember, I've pretty much been fighting all my UFC fights with one leg," Rousey said. "Now I feel better than I did even when I was 16 years old, when I got my first knee surgery. I really feel rejuvenated, like I just molted or something and I have a brand new body and I allowed myself to rest and recuperate.
"Even my mom, who is the biggest into working hard all of the time, more than anyone you would ever know in your life, was telling me that ‘you need to rest your body, it's telling you something.' And I'm very glad I did because when I cleaned up everything in my knee, we found out that I had arthritic spurs literally rubbing onto my ACL and it would've ruptured at any time. So we took care of everything just in time. I'm perfectly healthy and better than ever before, and I can just feel my body itching to fight again."
The thought of a rejuvenated Rousey is a scary one, especially when one considers the ridiculous success she's already achieved just five years into her MMA career. Rousey is undefeated in all 10 of her pro bouts, and just once -- her rematch against rival Miesha Tate -- has she been stretched out of the first round.
But Zingano presents a different set of challenges than Rousey has ever faced before. A 32-year-old mother of one, Zingano persevered through a barrage of personal challenges over the past few years, including a complete ACL tear and the tragic suicide of her husband, to retain her spot atop the women's 135-pound division. And when asked why she may succeed against Rousey when everyone else in her weight class has failed, Zingano's answer was frank.
"Well, I'm different," Zingano said. "I know she knows that. I know the whole promotion knows that. I have things to offer that people haven't seen before, and I just have to be me, I just have to do me, go out there with my intensity and my aggression and I'm unstoppable. I know that."
To that point, Rousey agreed. So if the new year is setting up to top 2014's spectacular campaign, Rousey is well aware of how dangerous of a foe she's starting against.
"I think that Cat's resilience is one of the things that has really impressed me about her the most," Rousey said. "And I think that's what's really gotten her most of her fans. It's not just the way that she fights, it's the way that she endures. It's extremely impressive.
"She's not one of those people who can be intimidated so I won't even bother. She's not one of those people who can start losing a fight and you can count on them being a frontrunner and defeating themselves. She's one of those people who has to finished all the way until the very, very end, and I'm ready for that. I'm ready for a five-round war if it needs to be that way, and I'm still going to be the better fighter that night regardless of what happens."