16 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming the Best Female UFC Fighter in the World

Ronda Rousey, 28, is professional mixed martial artist and the UFC’s no. 1 ranked bantamweight fighter. Her next fight will be November 14 in Melbourne, Australia, where she’ll take on former world-champion boxer Holly Holm.

1. Male UFC fighters actually respect you.

Male fighters in the UFC treat me like I’m a real peer, not just some chick that showed up. For instance, when I met Jon Jones, one of the UFC’s champions, he knew exactly who I was and said he’d been studying my videos and trying to do some of my moves. He even asked me for technical tips.

2. Fame makes going places into a big production.

I can’t go to the bathroom at a gas station without somebody being like, “Hey, what’s up?!” Then a five-minute errand ends up taking 20 minutes. If I’m with other people and we’re in a hurry, I can be lazier, like, “Go inside and grab something for me.”

3. The more famous you get, the harder it gets to eat.

At one of my favorite places to eat after training, I literally double-fist my food with a wrap in one hand and a forkful of salad in the other — but every time a fan approaches me, which can happen a dozen times throughout the meal, I have to put my food down to talk. There was one day when I tried to take a bite five times in a row, and it just didn’t work out.

Sometimes people I’m eating with will get impatient and be like, “Goddamn, just let her eat her sandwich!” But I have a lot of patience and I’m happy to talk to people. The only thing that bothers me is when my wrap starts to fall apart from picking it up and putting it down too many times. You need to get a good grip on a wrap to eat it!

4. It’s OK if your fitness level fluctuates.

I’ll be in good shape for a period of time when I’m in training camp or doing media appearances, which require a lot of discipline. Nothing compares to the six- to eight-week training camps I do to prepare for fights, but I do have to try a little harder to be good about what I eat and stay in shape when I have a bunch of media stuff coming up.

Sometimes I’ll take a week to just eat Buffalo wings and relax at home until I have camp again. When I’m off, I still train in the mornings — I love training in my off time — but then I eat whatever I want for the rest of the day. Being disciplined about what I eat doesn’t make me feel deprived — it helps me enjoy the time that I get to relax and stuff my face. Eventually, I get tired of eating poorly. I start to crave healthy food and the way my body feels when it’s in top shape.

5. Your dating life doesn’t get more interesting

But everyone becomes more interested in hearing about it. I’m as busy now as I was when I was working three jobs and training full-time — I’m just busy with different stuff. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for dating. The main difference in my dating life is that now it interests everybody. When I was serving drinks at Gladstone’s, I didn’t have 4 million people telling me to go on a date with a Marine.

6. People feel entitled to know everything about you.

When I’m recognized in public, complete strangers will ask me, “Hey, what are you doing here?” I’m like, “I don’t know you — I wouldn’t ask you what you’re doing here because you’re a stranger. Maybe I’m here to buy tampons. You don’t need to know about my cycle. It’s none of your business.”

7. No matter how fit you are, you can’t train for a book tour.

I didn’t know mine would be so difficult and exhausting. I probably slept no more than three or four hours a night because we flew from city to city with events that ended late and started really early. Every single person that came to an event to meet me had been waiting in line with all this emotion and energy — they were so amped up! I had to match that emotion and energy every time. But matching 500 people all day — man, it took a lot of energy.

8. People look up to you — whether you like it or not.

I feel like I’m a role model to my little sister and my nieces and my nephew, but I can’t say the same thing for people I don’t know. If they think of me as their role model, I’m happy to play the part, but I think they idolize their perception of me, not me personally. Sometimes people see me inaccurately. That’s the kind of ebb and flow of living a public life.

9. Pre-match trash talk actually helps your opponents.

Whenever I go back and forth with a girl I’m going to fight, it’s for a reason — I’m responding to something they said. Because it ends up being entertaining, it helps both of us promote the match-up and the sport as a whole. So do I ever feel bad about trash-talking? No. I’m helping the other girl pay her bills!

10. Fighting is your best source of income.

The UFC is the only sport where the highest paid athlete is a woman, and I’m the highest paid UFC fighter. Between prize money and additional compensation from the UFC, I definitely make more money from fighting than I do from book sales and appearances.

11. You have no time to spend your money.

I probably went shopping once this whole year with a friend who made me go. It’s impossible because I really have no time.

12. You can moonlight as a sneaker fairy because you will have too many.

If you come into my house and you’re a size 8½, you’re walking out with multiple pairs of shoes because I have too much stuff and not enough space in my 800-square-foot house. I get so much clothing and footwear for free — especially from my Buffalo David Bitton and Reebok sponsors, who constantly send me stuff.

13. Pre-fight diet plans can be so specific that you have to cook food for yourself.

During my training camp right before a fight, I have to eat such a strict, precise diet that I end up having to cook all my own meals. I’ve gotten to the point where they’re edible and they’re not poisonous, but they’re not really delicious. So I’m trying to learn how to cook — I’m catching up!

14. You’ll spend more time at the airport than you do in the air because fans will want to meet you.

One time I took a 45-minute flight from Vegas to L.A., but then I ended up staying and signing autographs for two, maybe three hours afterward. I probably should have just drove.

15. You get lonely when you travel — all the time.

I was recently staying in a hotel by myself where they comped me a room with a pool table. I was like, “This is a really awesome room, but I’m still playing pool alone.” It’s why I spend much of my alone time calling people to catch up.

16. You miss some priceless moments when you’re training.

My nephew was born right before I went to training camp to prepare for a fight. I saw him for about a week, but didn’t get to see him again until he was 9 weeks old. He’ll never be that young again. I missed that time in his life forever because of my job.