We asked UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey to discuss some of the people chiefly responsible for her success. We will post one each day leading up to Rousey’s first defense of her 135-pound title Saturday against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
Today, Rousey talks about Gene LeBell, a longtime family friend and legendary judo champion who helps run Hayastan MMA Academy in North Hollywood and has been in Rousey’s corner — figuratively and literally — throughout her MMA career:
Gene’s great. He’s known my mom from before I was born. Him and Gokor (Chivichyan) are kind of tied together in my mind in a way. I’ve never really been one to see them separately.
Gene’s been fantastic. He just always got caught up in ways of being so respectful, so supportive when a lot of people had burned their bridges with me and thought I was a waste of time. He’s just had such unwavering faith in me since the beginning that I really cherish him as a really close family friend.