ANAHEIM — History was made as soon as Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche walked into the octagon on Saturday night.
And just that quickly, Carmouche was history, as she succumbed to Rousey’s signature armbar with just 11 seconds to go in the opening round of the main event of UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche at the Honda Center in Anaheim. On top of being the first-ever women’s fight, it was also the first-ever women’s title defense, as Rousey held on to the UFC women’s bantamweight title.
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“Is this real life right now, I’m not sure,” said Rousey in the octagon after becoming the first women in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship to claim victory.
In the initial women’s fight in the near-two-decade history of the UFC, Carmouche (8-3) gave Rousey (7-0) her stiffest test, but the story was just the same for the Glendale Fighting Club-trained Rousey. She finished her seventh fight with an armbar, just like the other six.
With seconds ticking away in the round, Rousey was working with all her might to pull back on Carmouche’s arm and break her grip, but Carmouche fought just as hard until her defense was broken and she was forced to tap out at the 4:49 mark of the fight.
“I was just trying to do it perfectly on the first try,” said Rousey, who was cornered by the Glendale Fighting Club’s Edmond Tarverdyan, along with Manny Gamburyan, Gene LeBell and Leo Frincu.
The historic event reached a fever pitch as the two entered the octagon and the fight didn’t disappoint, finishing off a highlight-filled card.
Rousey engaged with a jab to start, but Carmouche showed no fear and, after Rousey worked for a clinch, Carmouche backed away and, as Rousey pressured, Carmouche let punches fly and Rousey ate some leather. Rousey later landed a stiff uppercut in the clinch and notched a takedown as she was seemingly working for a judo throw, but sat down on it.
Carmouche, a 12-1 underdog, looked for the shocking upset when she was able to take Rousey’s back. Rousey stood as cameras flashed and the crowd roared. Carmouche looked to be working for a rear-naked choke, but had a face crank and was wrenching Rousey’s neck. Then she went for the choke, but Rousey kept working and shaking away before she was finally able to get Carmouche off.
“It was a great fight,” Carmouche said, “I thought I had it.”
Rousey hovered over her, landing a few punches from the top before Rousey went for top position.
She would work from the top in what was basically a side headlock, raining down left hands on Carmouche’s head. Carmouche worked feverishly to free herself, eventually kicking up her legs over Rousey’s head, but it was actually the beginning of the end.
Rousey used Carmouche’s escape attempt as an opportunity to transition into an armbar attempt.
Carmouche defended well for a while, but inevitably lost the battle just as all of Rousey’s previous opponents had. Carmouche tapped and Rousey leaned back on the canvas raising her arms in victory.
One of the aspects of the fight questioned leading up to it was whether it was worthy of headlining a pay-per-view card, particularly with former Strikeforce and PRIDE champion Dan Henderson and former UFC champion Lyoto Machida fighting in the co-main event. However, when Rousey was first shown on the big screen in the pay-per-view’s opening montage, it was clear that her star was shining in Anaheim as she got the loudest ovation.
It culminated a main event that had more media build than any other UFC fight previously, but that didn’t distract Rousey.
“It was different,” said Rousey of all the media attention, “but there’s no amount of press that can save these girls from me.”