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Ronda Rousey says she retired from UFC, WWE due to concussions she had to keep ‘secret for years’

Ronda Rousey reached the pinnacle in UFC and WWE but had an unceremonious exit from both organizations. It turns out an undisclosed history of concussions abruptly ended her run with each promotion.

The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion left the promotion in 2016 following consecutive knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. Her swift split from mixed martial arts and dismissive attitude towards her UFC tenure soured fans who perceived her as bitter. According to Rousey, it was her “concussion history” predating her MMA run that had her tight-lipped.

“I had to keep [it] secret for years, so I would be able to continue to compete and perform,” Rousey told fans on Instagram Live while teasing content from her upcoming memoir, Our Fight.

“I think that there was just so much to [that Holm loss], that I couldn’t talk about it in the form of like an interview or an article or anything like that, or there would be several filters between my words and people reading it. So much had to do with having so many concussions when I was in judo before I even got into MMA, I couldn’t talk about it at all when I was doing MMA. Because it would literally put a target on my head, and I might not have been allowed to compete any further.”

Rousey’s concussions played a direct role in ending her legendary MMA career.

“That’s basically why I had to retire,” Rousey said.

Rousey kept the concussions under wraps even after she retired from combat sports. It was a calculated risk to afford her a second high-profile career. Rousey made sporadic appearances for WWE starting in 2014 and signed onto the company full-time in 2017. Her time in professional wrestling led to four championship reigns, becoming the eighth women’s triple crown champion and winning the 2022 women’s Royal Rumble match.

“Same thing with WWE,” Rousey said. “They have a complicated history with their performers getting concussions, and it would be a bad look on them. So I felt like I really couldn’t talk about it at all. So I feel like this [is the] long form that I would be able to adequately address it.”

Rousey had a quiet departure from WWE after losing an “MMA Rules” match to her longtime friend and fellow UFC alum Shayna Baszler at SummerSlam in 2023. She subsequently wrestled two matches elsewhere — including one in Ring of Honor — teaming with MMA fighter-turned-pro wrestler Marina Shafir. Rousey subsequently retired for the second time.

“A really hard decision to understand, but one that my body really made for me,” Rousey said. “I feel like this is the only way to really get that across in the best, most complete way that it’s not just a tweet and a headline short.”

Rousey’s autobiography Our Fight will be released on April 2.

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