UFC 157 was the unabashed "Ronda Rousey Show," with the first-ever women's bantamweight champion in the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion making her highly-publicized Octagon debut along with Liz Carmouche. Despite being outgunned and outclassed, "Girl-Rilla" did her best to steal her share of the spotlight once the cage door closed, capping off a successful female experiment straight out of the gate. There's that and much more ...
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) last night (Feb. 23, 2013) staged its first-ever female-led major pay-per-view (PPV) mixed martial arts (MMA) event, UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche," from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Not too many fight fans gave Liz Carmouche much of a chance against UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey in the main event. That's because "Rowdy" is a straight up cat killer who doesn't play nice once the cage door closes, winning all her six professional fights in the first round via submission (armbar).
Make it lucky number seven.
However, it wasn't easy ... not even in close. In fact, it could probably be considered dangerously hairy and remarkably exciting, even though it lasted less than five minutes. That's because literally seconds into the historic match, "Girl-Rilla" reversed a patented "Rowdy" hip toss into a slick standing rear naked choke, which was eerily similar to one that happened moments earlier on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card (wel'll talk about that a little later below.)
Only this exchange ended differently, with Rousey fending off the choke, barely -- it was an intense battle of prying and squeezing limbs -- and dumping Carmouche onto the canvas, which is where she began her attack in earnest. Not before, however, Carmouche blasted her with a heel to the bosom as Rousey attempted to right her twisted top.
This is not X-rated (yet)!
Rousey began her ground-and-pound attack, looking to soften up the United States Marine Corps (USMC) war veteran and angle for her bread-and-butter move. She found it with just 10 seconds left on the clock, sitting back and hyperextending Carmouche's elbow joint the bad way, forcing a quick tap and cementing her place in the UFC history books.
The only real surprise was the dramatic threat Carmouche mounted in the opening moments. No one expected that and the promotion could not have scripted it any better; however, let's all remember that Carmouche still does not have a victory over an opponent with a winning record. She was set up to get steamrolled and she eventually did; however, it was fun while it lasted.
Take a bow, ladies.
Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson hooked 'em in the co-main event, two veterans stood up by Jon Jones and UFC matchmaking in 2012, "Dragon" because he didn't have enough time to prepare and "Hendo" because he didn't have a healthy knee. Last night was their night to reschedule with "Bones," with the winner earning a title shot later this year sometime after the division champion is done embarrassing Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 on April 27, 2013.
And it's Ma-cheetah who will get that opportunity (again) after he hit and ran all night long, flicking a pretty front kick all along the way to piling up frustrating points on the judges scorecards.
By now, fight fans should not be surprised with what didn't happen inside the Octagon last night, especially considering that Machida -- who is way too careful to begin with -- was going up against a man who is perhaps the hardest hitter in the sport. One good shot from Henderson can end the night of an Alpha mule, which is a game not even most trained and talented fighters want to play ... ever.
So, Machida didn't, and it's impossible to blame him for playing it safer than normal, which was like full-body condom safe.
It's hard to even describe it because not much happened. The first round they traded leg kicks, the second they traded a few more and in the third Henderson scored a takedown, but didn't do anything with it. Sprinkle in about two-dozen swings and misses from Henderson and you have a recipe for a split decision, which went to the Brazilian.
Disappointing to say the least, but, again, not a shocker. Expect a similar performance in Machida's rematch with Jones if and when it happens, considering the way in which their first encounter ended, with him choked unconscious.
Check that ... it might even be more careful.
Urijah Faber and Ivan Menjivar decided to run it back after their first encounter at TKO 24: "Eruption" back in 2006 ended in a dreaded "No Contest" because of an illegal kick from the "Pride of El Salvador" on a downed "California Kid."
No controversy or disappointment this time around.
Faber continued to demonstrate that as long as a belt is not involved, he simply cannot be beat. Menjivar is by no means a pushover, a very dangerous, crafty and experienced veteran who has been around the block and in against the best the sport has to offer, including the much bigger Georges St. Pierre way back when.
It didn't matter -- Faber absolutely dominated even when Menjivar drew first blood with a slick hip toss takedown. "California Kid" simply reversed, using the momentum to scramble into guard, where he remained for most of the first round, landing shots and avoiding submission attempts.
Faber would eventually get to his feet, but he didn't let Menjivar come along for the ride -- he continued to hover over him and threaten with shots. And when he jumped back down to get up close and personal, Menjivar tried to head in the opposite direction and escape.
Faber clung to Menjivar as he got to his feet, locking up a body triangle and rudely coming along for the ride -- no invitation required. After getting his legs wrapped up where he wanted them, Faber began to find a home for his remaining two limbs, which was around the throat of his Tristar-trained opponent.
It wasn't long before he had them right where he wanted them, along with Menjivar, who could have either opted for the Hail Mary dump or the inevitable tap. He chose the latter while standing, with Faber still draped across his back, celebrating another action-packed non-title victory.
Court McGee made a successful drop to Welterweight after back-to-back losses to Constantinos Philippou and Nick Ring, taking Josh Neer to the brink and nearly finishing him with a gut-buster in the early going. "The Dentist" somehow gritted it out, surviving to see the next round even though he was visibly in abdominal torment.
That was basically the highlight in an otherwise decent scrap, which served as a solid 170-pound The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner. Neer is a tough dude with tons of experience who has a chance to win just about every fight in which he is involved.
It just hasn't happened in his last three attempts, which these days, is the kiss of employment death.
Robbie Lawler returned to the Octagon for the first time in nearly a decade after back-to-back losses to Nick Diaz and the late Evan Tanner from 2003 to 2004 sent him on an MMA promotional odyssey in the prime of his career. And he did so at 170 pounds, which is a weight he hasn't sniffed in just about as long.
Just like riding a bike.
"Ruthless" was paired up with perennial top 170-pound division contender, Josh Koscheck, ensuring that he didn't get pitched a meatball and confirming that company president Dana White doesn't love the long-lost veteran that much. Indeed, since 2009, "Kos" has only lost twice in seven appearances, both to the two men atop the rankings, Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks.
We can now add Lawler's name to that short, but distinguished list.
Koscheck came out looking to leverage his top-shelf wrestling, securing a takedown early and neutralizing the power that Lawler packs in his punches ... momentarily. Lawler was able to get to his feet, but Koscheck dove for a another leg shortly therafter. Lawler was able to use the cage to remain upright, as Koscheck struggled to hug his ankle, which ultimately signaled the beginning of the end for the Dethrone Base Camp-trained fighter.
Lawler broke free as Koscheck -- who remained on his knees -- did little to protect himself. In fact, it was as if Koscheck didn't think he could legally be hit, but as he soon found out the hard way, he was very, very wrong. Lawler uncorked a savage low-flying hook flush onto Koscheck's jaw. He rolled to his side and Lawler -- one of the best finishers in the sport -- served up a few more knuckle sandwiches to his dazed counterpart.
Referee Herb Dean intervened, possibly a bit early, but Lawler attempted to assuage any type of controversy in his post-fight victory speech, declaring, "I was raining down a beating -- he wasn't coming back."
I believe him. And even if it doesn't seem quite right, I can't help but think Koscheck is now in the Danger Zone just like his buddy Jon Fitch, his fight future in the Octagon the topic of executive conversation. He, too, is not cheap, and he wins more often than he loses against top-level competition.
Just not last night.
That's enough from us. Now it's your turn to discuss UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" in the comments section below.
Did those opening main event moments have you on the edge of your seat? How long before Cristiane Santos gets a call? Impressed with Machida's performance enough to anoint him the next 205-pound No. 1 contender? Does Faber deserve another title shot or does he need to win one more? Is this the last we have seen of Neer inside the Octagon? Does Koscheck owe Herb Dean a beer for that stoppage or a Nasty Gram?
Let's hear it, Maniacs.
Be sure to also check out our complete UFC 157 blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Rousey vs. Carmouche" event right here. And for a detailed recap of the UFC 157 "Prelims" bouts on Facebook/FX click here.