In the wake of UFC 157, there is no denying that Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche delivered what everyone asked for—a fight. While the sold out crowd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California were booing the outcome of Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida’s co-main event sparring match, even the most uneducated spectators knew that the next five minutes were going to be worth the wait.
Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” boomed with bass and the crowd stood up to get a glimpse of the challenger. It only seemed appropriate that Liz Carmouche walked out, looking extremely focused and slightly nervous as the crowd cheered with some reservations. They cheered as if she was an underdog, expecting her best effort yet short of a victory.
As the arena went black, the crowd roared while cameras seemed to be flashing prematurely before you could even detect any movement from the tunnel. Sure enough, the fitting riff of “Bad Reputation” came on and “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey was officially walking out. While some critics were pointing out that there was no way she could be a UFC champion having not fought yet in the organization, it sure didn’t feel that way Saturday night.
The crowd was on edge by the time the cage door shut. They just wanted to see a fight and get the bad taste of a Machida decision out of their mouth. UFC President Dana White had put in a new piece of gum to ease his nerves, and luckily for him he didn’t need another. Just one minute into the fight, Carmouche took Rousey’s back and had control of an uncomfortable looking standing neck crank. She was no longer an underdog. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath and screaming at the same time. The bout that was expected to be lopsided by the media and the uneducated, was now on the edge of an upset.
Fast forward to just 11 seconds left in the first round, and Carmouche had tapped to Rousey’s signature move, the arm bar. 15,525 people erupted with screams and drunken cheers. It was almost poetic.
Not only did Ronda Rousey overcome adversity in her first UFC women’s bantamweight championship fight, she made history. She did what everyone was expecting her to do. It just took a little more effort for her to do it, but that just made it all the sweeter.
And while Carmouche’s army of “Lizbos” in attendance were crushed by the outcome, Carmouche herself didn’t seem to have any regrets about how the night went in her post-fight speech.
“I thought it was a great fight, I thought I had it. Like everything, you make a mistake and it turns around.”
The crowd accepted her for what she was, a worthy adversary.
Say what you will about how the event sold out but didn’t produce as high of a gate as previous events at the same venue, or how Carmouche had teeth marks on her arm from Rousey attempting to squirm out of her near-finish. The fact is that the fight was among the most dramatic and anticipated of the night, and with a definitive winner. That is something that the night did not have, and Rousey and Carmouche gave it.
Sure Bermudez and Grice put on a barn burner, but it was a close decision. Sure Faber finished Menjivar with a standing rear naked choke and had the California crowd on its feet, but he wasn’t ever in any danger before that.
Rousey and Carmouche delivered what the other bouts couldn’t—the right amount of drama, the right amount of heart, and the right amount of predictability.
It is safe to say that Dana White hit a home run implementing a women’s division into the UFC. And while some of the numbers regarding income don’t quite add up yet, there’s no denying every fan or foe of Rousey knew that February 23, 2013, there was going to be a “girl fight”.
White credits the media for the attention this event received. And while some fans thumbed their noses at Rousey’s attitude and star power, you have to respect the attention that this woman has brought to the sport of mixed martial arts.
MMA is now not only a male dominated sport on a grand scale—something the NFL, MLB, or the NBA do not offer. The UFC has become the fastest rising, first international, male/female league in sports to garner attention from ESPN, Time, HBO, and social media respectively.
So huff and puff all you want about how Rousey is a one trick pony and you wish to see her fail, that’s just what we fans do. But remember, she did make history—in more ways than we may have cared to notice.Tags: anaheim honda center, Dana White, faber, featured, henderson, Liz Carmouche, machida, menjivar, MMA NEWS, Ronda Rousey, Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight, ufc 157, ufc news, UFC women's bantamweight champion