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Pan American gold medalist once beat UFC star Ronda Rousey, but doesn’t remember it

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Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Marti Malloy won the biggest title of her career at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, but won’t be following one of the biggest names in Judo history to mixed martial arts.

Malloy defeated Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard to capture the -57kg (125 pound) gold medal on July 12 in Canada, and told that UFC superstar Ronda Rousey, the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo, has always been one of her inspirations.

"We grew up fighting each other for years, actually," Malloy said. "I always told her she’s one of the main reasons that I went to dojo and worked so hard because she always beat me."

Beating Rousey in judo wasn’t an easy feat, and Malloy can say she did it once. There’s an issue, though.

"She swears that I beat her one time, but I really don’t remember ever beating her," she said with a laugh, "because I was always thinking ‘I have to beat Ronda, I have to beat Ronda’, because she would submit me with her famous armbar, or beat me. We were part of the same club and we would fight almost every single weekend in that club."

A fan of Rousey’s armbars, Malloy was in China when the current UFC bantamweight champion won the Olympic bronze medal. Malloy, who also won an Olympic bronze medal at London 2012, wasn’t surprised when "Rowdy" decided to leave judo for MMA.

"When Ronda was done fighting in Beijing, I really didn’t know where she would go next," Malloy said. "I saw her a couple years later and she mentioned to me she was thinking about fighting mixed martial arts. At the time, I thought ‘but that doesn’t exist for women yet’, but she made it exist.

"She’s amazing, and it’s inspiring to see somebody create a market for something that wasn’t even there. She basically made that whole thing happen, and it’s great. She’s that kind of person that wherever she strides to be good at, she will be good at because of her work ethic."

A fan of mixed martial arts, Malloy rules out competing in other sport other than judo.

"I don’t know. At my age… I know I’m not that old, but I’m going to be 30 years old after the Olympics," she said. "For me, transferring over to other martial arts and trying to learn and pick up new skills, isn’t something at that age I’m really that excited about. I don’t wanna get punched or kicked [laughs]. I’m happier being just a fan of MMA than a practitioner."

Ronda Rousey, who puts the UFC title on the line in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 1st, facing undefeated contender Bethe Correia at the HSBC Arena, loves competing in the city. In 2007, Rousey won the gold medal at the Pan American Games and placed second in the world championship.

Malloy, who also placed second at the world championship in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, wants to return to the city in 2016 for the Olympic gold.

"I can’t wait to go to Rio next year," Malloy said. "I have good feeling about Rio. I took silver at the world in 2013 and I went back to Saquarema in January for a training camp. I had a great training camp, had a really great time. It’s a really beautiful place. It’s really nice to go again for the Olympics."

"I’ve had my first Olympic experience last time and luckily I was able to get the bronze medal, so I think, more than anything, I’m prepared to go there and win," she continued. "I’ve learned a lot in the last three years since London, so I know I’m completely capable of coming home with the gold. There’s just so many factors there’s going to come into play, my conditioning, my state of mind, mentally, and who you’re going to fight first, second, and who you’re going to face in the final. My division is a very, very tough one, so there’s no match that would be easy."

If everything goes right, Malloy, a Dollamur Sport Surfaces ambassador, will retire after competing in Rio de Janeiro.

"I wanna retire as Olympic champion and world champion," she said. "We have a world championship this year, and I think that if I don’t come home with the gold medal, I think that I’ll try winning the gold before hanging my gi, for sure."