There could not have been a more ROCKY Balboa-like scenario than the UFC 157 main event Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche at the HONDA Center in Anaheim, California, Feb 23, 2013. ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey has it all: the stunning looks, the fame, the money and most of all the historic / first women’s UFC Bantamweight belt. Ronda was more like Apollo Creed and Liz Carmouche the under dog Rocky. Carmouche is the tough former U.S. Marine who has had an exciting MMA career but is still relatively new to the sport.
Everyone, from fans to the media knew the chances of an upset were slim. No one outside the camp and the Lizbos, the official Liz Carmouche fan club would really believe that she could beat Rousey. Carmouche is also the first openly gay MMA fighter. No one could deny however, that Carmouche had courage and heart more than any other of Rousey’s opponents, who happens to be undefeated.
And it’s not just the fact that Rousey is undefeated, but how she is able to literally dispose of all her opponents that make her so dominant. Typically, Rousey would throw a few punches get a takedown and lock her legs in on the neck and head and crank the most deadly and unstoppable arm bar in the sport. None of her opponents could stop it, all it takes is a few seconds and the other fighter would tap out. The longest her fight lasted was a minute on the way to becoming Strikeforce Champion, a league that was acquired by the UFC.
To Carmouche’s credit she turned out to be the toughest fight for Rousey. After getting up from a takedown she took Rousey’s back and was able to get a face crank. In the undercard that night California Kid Uriah Faber finished Ivan Menjivar in almost the same fashion with one distinction. Uriah was able to get his wrist under Menjivar’s chin to make it a rear naked choke, which ended the fight.
Carmouche was almost there with a face crank, but Rousey was able to bend down shake her off and throw her to the ground. On top Rousey softened her up with ground and pound. Then came the inevitable, as legs started locking in her head and neck. It looked as if she could escape until Rousey was able to roll with her and turn into an even more inescapable position and crank on the right arm. This is where the skill of referee Big John McCarthy was crucial.
The second Carmouche tapped out, he was there to yank Liz arm out of Ronda’s hold. A second more it would’ve been a broken arm. The highlights of Rousey’s fights show the elbow popping out of position and you can see when and where the arm breaks. Even if a fighter’s arm heals from that injury it will never be the same. Obviously, there was a conscious effort on John McCarthy to save Liz from being permanently injured.
It’s a huge achievement for Liz that the fight lasted up to the final minute of the first round. She even had Rousey in trouble more than anyone else had before. Rousey was able to show that she’s just too athletic and too technically proficient for anyone to realistically challenge her for the belt.
Just over a year ago, UFC President Dana White claimed there would never be a women’s fight in the UFC. I can understand where he’s coming from. I’m 100% sure that women could have exciting and entertaining fights just as much as men. I’ve been a boxing fan since childhood who has seen women’s boxing on TV. I just couldn’t stand seeing women get hurt, although I can’t really speak for the whole male population of the world. I suspect that just like me the majority of fans had similar reservations of seeing women compete in MMA.
Seeing someone like Ronda Rousey however is a huge game changer. When Dana came out with the announcement of her as a UFC champ, it made me want to ask what is she like in the octagon? She has that all American beauty, blonde hair, killer smile, bright blue eyes, Sports Illustrated swimsuit (sorry ESPN Body) issue-level figure. She’s also one of the best trash talkers too by the way.
After finding out her record and highlight of her wins, it was nothing short of spectacular. I can’t remember anyone being as dominant as her even compared with ANY male UFC champion. It reminded me of Mike Tyson’s peak in his career when he was knocking people out in the first three rounds. No doubt, she has the most deadly and perfectly executed arm bar technique, male OR female. It took someone like Ronda Rousey to change Dana’s mind and go for Women’s MMA and eventually the whole world.
Dana’s problem was finding someone who was crazy enough to fight her. Ronda herself said that the belt wasn’t real until she defended it. Carmouche had just come from 3 tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Marine when she got into MMA. She proved herself in her stints in Strikeforce before meeting Rousey in the UFC. After some research on Carmouche, White found a respectable challenger while no one else wanted to fight the dangerous Rousey.
At 17, Ronda was the youngest competitor for Judo in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens. She earned the bronze medal in 2008 Olympics in Beijing. According to Wikipedia, “Her mother, Ann Maria Rousey DeMars, also had a decorated Judo career and was the first American to win a World Judo Championship with her victory in 1984.”
Joe Rogan asked Ronda after the fight if the media glare surrounding the UFC was intimidating and she responded, “There’s no amount of press that can save this girl from me.” Rogan finished by saying, “You are not just the first UFC Woman’s Champion, you are a real representative of women’s athletics. Congratulations, you’re a true champion it’s an honor calling your first fight.”