Something was awry when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White walked up to the UFC on Fox 5 press conference (full details here) this afternoon (Dec. 6, 2012) in Seattle, Wash., with an extra belt in tow.
A reporter caught on to it, but White was coy about it until breaking a huge announcement near the end of the presser: Strikeforce women's 135-pound champion, Ronda Rousey, was in the UFC and she would make her Octagon debut, as well as defend her title, in Feb. 2013 against Liz Carmouche in the UFC 157 pay-per-view (PPV) main event.
While mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have been clamoring for Rousey to fight former Strikeforce women's 145-pound champion Cyborg Santos, White said the fight will hopefully be next.
"[The Cyborg fight] was obviously what we wanted to make. We wanted to do it at 135 pounds and we worked hard to make that fight. I believe this fight will happen. I truly believe the next one will be the Cyborg fight. This fight first and then the Cyborg fight will happen at 135 pounds."
With Rousey's reputation for destroying her opponents and with a high risk for causing severe damage to their arms and ligaments, it was no surprise that Carmouche got the title opportunity simply by being one of the few females willing to take the risk.
As White put it, "People aren't kicking down doors at Zuffa to fight her."
Rousey was very excited to take the podium, and of course, her first question answered discussed the potential Cyborg fight.
"No, it's going to happen eventually. I can't make these girls fight me when I want them to fight me. I've got a lot of respect for Liz. She's the only one that really stepped up and said she wanted this fight right now. It speaks a lot to her and when the other girls come around, when they actually want to come to the big show, they know where I'm at."
The former United States Olympic bronze medalist in Judo was almost at a loss for words when discussing what this moment meant to her and all of women's MMA:
"It's funny. I never get nervous for stuff like this. I didn't even know about this until this morning. I don't even know what to make of it. It means a lot and I feel like we have a lot to prove at this event and no one's gonna be disappointed. I think the women are here to stay and I'm here to prove it."
Lastly, Rousey's final statement concerned Cyborg finally saying she'd be able to make 135 pounds eventually. As always, "Rowdy" wasn't one to mince words.
"I wasn't the least bit surprised. I know she can make 135 and so does she. It takes her a little bit of a while to realize that this is the only option that she has and it took her a little bit of a while because I don't think she's that bright. When she does sit down and think about it and whatever, then we'll actually have the only fight that makes sense."
Women coming to the UFC is not huge surprise. The rumors have been swirling for weeks, but now that it's official and Rousey will headline a PPV, she'll have huge expectations and pressure.
And, quite possibly, those Octagon jitters.
Do you think she'll be able to handle it, Maniacs? How do you think women will do in the UFC in 2013? Will you be willing to pay to watch Rousey fight?