History was made last night (Feb. 23, 2013) as UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and challenger Liz Carmouche held the first female fight in the history of the promotion in the main event of UFC 157 in Anaheim, California.
Rousey's fight was one of the most hyped bouts in the history of the promotion, receiving an unheard of level of attention that UFC President Dana White had stated blew Brock Lesnar "out of the water."
WIth all that attention, all the Primetime specials, all the build. How could a fight possibly live up to the hype?
Believe it or not, it did.
As the fight began, Rousey did her usual forward pressure trying to keep Carmouche on her heels and create an opportunity to close the distance and go to work on the ground just like she loves to do. After pressing the "GirlRilla" into the fence, Rousey transitioned to her usual head scarf attack which has set up several of her victories either by tossing her opponents over her shoulder or dragging them to the ground to set up her patented armbar.
But Carmouche had done her homework. The former marine realized Rousey was leaving her back exposed in the position and she transitioned directly to the champion's back standing, catching Rousey completely by surprise and sinking both hooks in while trying to find an opportunity to choke the Olympic bronze medalist out and pull off a tremendous upset.
Rousey didn't leave her neck exposed but Carmouche didn't care, she tightened up a choke/neck crank and squeezed with everything she had anyways, but as the crank distracted her, Rousey twisted her body and shook Carmouche off her back, dropping the former Strikeforce title challenger to the ground and escaping the precarious position.
Once Carmouche was on the ground, the fight was a completely different story as Rousey kept serious pressure on her from side control in that same head scarf position, attacking with short punches while Carmouche threw knees to the body from bottom and tried to curl up and pull off some crazy inverted attacks, but Rousey's top pressure was just too strong.
When Rousey passed to full mount with less than a minute left, it was only a matter of time before she spiderwebbed her legs and transitioned to an armbar attempt, eventually dropping to the canvas and trying to pry Carmouche's arm free. Once she finally leveraged the "GirlRilla's" free arm, the challenger was forced to tap out with just 11 seconds remaining in the first round.
For Liz Carmouche, she did everything she possibly could in this fight to nearly pull off the tremendous upset. The title challenger was a huge underdog, but she fought like the odds to the fight were even, really taking the fight to Rousey and she almost shocked the world when she took the champion's back standing and tried to choke her out. While she couldn't quite sink her forearm underneath Rousey's chin, she did crank the hell out of her neck and had her in serious trouble before Rousey escaped.
This was the most trouble anyone has ever put Rousey in during her now 10 fight career (including her amateur fights) and that's something Carmouche can hang her hat on. While she eventually was submitted by Rousey, the fact that she lasted longer than anyone else has and that she never gave in is something she can be very proud of. Carmouche fought her ass off.
Next up for Carmouche will probably be the Cat Zingano vs Miesha Tate loser. If that's not the case, she could fight a new opponent the UFC hasn't signed yet like Shayna Baszler or something. There are plenty of options for women at bantamweight.
For Ronda Rousey, while she was in a bit of a scare in the beginning after allowing Carmouche to take her back standing, she didn't panic and showed some serious resolve under fire despite the precarious position she was in. The second she escaped the position by twisting free and dumping Carmouche onto the canvas.
Once back on the ground, Rousey was in complete control and this time, she didn't relent her advantage, staying heavy on top from side control and dropping punches on the "GirlRilla" before finally passing to mount and entering her patented spiderweb armbar position. There is no one in MMA right now better from the spiderweb position than Rousey, who puts a death grip on her opponent's upper body with her legs and creates an opportunity to free that arm. It doesn't matter how strong you are, Rousey's use of leverage and simply physics to pry Carmouche's arm loose was unbelievable and the second she got that arm straightened out, the fight was over.
This was a fantastic performance and showed Rousey handling adversity, something she's never really experienced in her MMA career thus far, which was a good sign. With the UFC women's bantamweight division still very thin, the "Rowdy" one will likely be fighting the Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano winner but if that falls through, they could always set up an "Olympian vs. Olympian" fight against Sara McMann.