The UFC celebrated a major milestone inside Anaheim’s Honda Center Saturday night, as women entered the Octagon for the first time, with Strikeforce’s Ronda Rousey defending her bantamweight belt against Liz Carmouche. The bout packed the house and garnered major mainstream media attention, but in the end – as always – it all comes down to sport, and after a competitive start, Rousey showed on her biggest stage to date why she’s the best in the world.
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche
All six of Ronda Rousey’s pro and three amateur fights to date had gone the same way: The Olympic-medaling judoka rushed across the cage, tripped her foes to the mat, then slapped on a game-ending armbar. In fact, Miesha Tate is the only woman to have made it out of the first minute with Rousey.
Ultra-tough competitor and Marine Corps veteran Liz Carmouche changed things up in the main event and made Rousey fight, but in the end, Rousey defended her belt, earning a submission win at 4:49 of the first round – by armbar.
Carmouche defended the charging Rousey takedown attempt with punches and a sprawl. When Rousey finally dragged things to the mat, Carmouche used wrestling to get back to her feet, taking Rousey’s back along the way. Carmouche had both hooks in on a standing Rousey, and worked for a rear-naked choke that turned into an ugly neck crank. Rousey looked to be in danger, but finally shook Carmouche off over her head. Carmouche upkicked but stayed on the mat, and from then the fight was squarely back in Rousey’s world.
Rousey punched through and dropped into a high side control, hooking Carmouche’s head into place with her right arm while punching with her left. As Carmouche tried to kick upward and make space with her legs, she wound up setting Rousey up for her signature move. Though Carmouche defended well, holding on to her own arms and pushing Rousey back with her legs, eventually Rousey got both arms under one of Carmouche’s, leaned back, and got the tap.
The 7-0 Rousey now holds the honor of being the first female to win inside the UFC Octagon. Carmouche drops to 7-3 – her only losses coming in Strikeforce and the UFC – but holds a no less crucial place in UFC history.
Rousey sent two important messages to female competitors in her post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. First, that no amount of media would keep her from winning. And second: “Next time, bigger bra,” she said, referring to the near-wardrobe malfunctions she underwent during some of the scrambles with Carmouche.
“That was the most vulnerable a position I’ve been in so far in my career," she said. "That was pretty tight, that neck crank, and I was very happy to get out of it. This was a wild ride and I can’t wait to get back in the Octagon.”
Carmouche praised her fellow pioneer. “It was an honor to fight here tonight. I thought I had her for a minute there, but she’s the champion for a reason. I had that neck crank very tight, but I had the choke across her mouth and couldn’t get it to her neck. I actually have her teeth marks all over my arm. Sorry, Ronda, I didn’t mean to do that!"
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson
Two former champions – one from UFC, one from Strikeforce and PRIDE... Two Californians – one by way of Salvador, Brazil… Two knockout artists with wildly different styles – one a karate expert, the other an Olympic-caliber wrestler… The light heavyweight matchup between Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and Dan Henderson had all of the makings of an epic clash, if not a fairly successful Hollywood buddy comedy. In the end, it was more of an understated, international art house film that closed with Machida getting the split decision win after three rounds of evasive footwork – in other words, the type of ending that sent audiences home debating who really did what.
“Hendo” wound up and Machida swatted, keeping his distance with his unique karate-inspired style. This configuration varied little throughout the round, as each time Henderson swung, Machida backed off and stayed out of danger. The two traded more leg kicks than strikes, with Henderson landing more of the low kicks while Machida scored a kick square to Henderson’s mid-section. When Henderson did connect, Machida quickly clinched, then separated again. Henderson tied up in the center of the cage in search of a takedown, but it was Machida who completed it, landing ground-and-pound from mount at the end of the round.
The standoff continued in two, with Hendo stalking and Machida evading. Machida made it inside for a few punches, and landed a couple of knees, a high kick and a spinning back kick. Hendo pointed mostly with leg kicks, and as he grew increasingly frustrated, he chased Machida from end-to-end of the Octagon, throwing his signature right hands, all of which Machida blocked with an almost-smile.
After more defused H-bombs and eating a body kick, Hendo finally got things to the ground about 90 seconds into the third. But Machida tied up easily inside a powerful guard that gave Henderson little room to work. Eventually Machida made his way back to the feet, then landed leg kicks as he seemingly taunted Henderson Diaz-style.
Scores for the resoundingly-booed Machida were 29-28 twice and 28-29. The victory bumps him to 19-3 and, in all likelihood, a title shot against the winner of UFC 159’s Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen. Henderson slips to 29-9.
“I’m sorry the fight wasn’t as good as the fans wanted," said Machida. My strategy was to keep away from the right hand. I frustrated him and kept the fight where I wanted it."
Henderson was less diplomatic: “I won the fight, but not officially. I hit him whenever he wanted to fight. He ran away most of the time."
Watch Machida's post-fight interview
Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar
Urijah Faber stopped Canadian veteran Ivan Menjivar in front of “The California Kid’s” ecstatic and screaming home-turf crowd. The featherweight fight was the second (though not the last) on the main card to last less than a round.
Menjivar threw Faber to the ground early on, but Faber easily reversed then moved to side control and guard. Faber got through with big hellbows as Menjivar worked for a submission from the bottom. Menjivar tried to shrimp out but Faber was still halfway on his back. As Menjivar stood, Faber hung off of him sideways, then swung one leg around and got one hook in, then the other. As the crowd screamed for his acrobatics, Faber locked in the rear-naked choke with Menjivar still standing, earning the tap at 4:31.
The former WEC champion improves his record to 27-6; all five of his UFC and WEC losses have come in title fights. Menjivar’s numbers settle at 25-10. "That was a good, solid win over a very good opponent who hardcore fans know is one of the best in the world," said Faber. "I still think I will get the UFC belt, and tonight was about proving that’s still in my future."
Watch Faber's post-fight interview
Court McGee vs. Josh Neer
Court McGee was always tough at middleweight, but in his welterweight debut against Josh Neer, “The Crusher” looked more like a killer than a grinder, staying busy for a 15-minute decision over “The Dentist.”
The bout started a straight boxing match between two solid strikers. McGee scored with volume punches, and Neer just goaded him forward. Neer countered with powerful shots, but McGee kept piling it on as Neer slowed under the pressure. Toward the end of the round, Neer was clearly hurt from body blows, so McGee followed with dozens more that sent Neer to the fence and then to the mat where McGee attempted a submission as the round ended.
Still smelling blood, McGee bullied Neer from the start of round two, battering him with leg kicks and body kicks, then knocking him to the mat with a shot. McGee continued his assault of punches, but Neer began to recover and rally back a few times, finishing combinations with power shots and taking on the aggressor role.
With round three still anyone’s fight and Neer rallying, McGee changed tactics with a tie-up on the cage and a pair of takedowns. Neer’s bottom game neutralized much of McGee’s attempted ground-and-pound, but he still ended the fight raining hammerfists and elbows from top.
“I felt great at 170 pounds,” said McGee.”This was a great move for me. I felt stronger, faster and had a lot more gas. I was told by FightMetric that I broke the record for most significant strikes ever in a welterweight fight and feel great.” Scores were 30-27 across the board for a win that took McGee’s career record to 14-3; Neer drops to 33-13-1.
Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler
Josh Koscheck returned to the Octagon after a nine-month layoff to meet Strikeforce stalwart “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, making his first trip to the UFC (and welterweight) in nine years. The four-minute fight, like the matchup, came down to striking vs. wrestling, and in the end it was Lawler’s hands that reigned supreme.
Koscheck got two takedowns in the first two minutes, then spent a few minutes working for another against the cage. When Koscheck changed levels, Lawler sprawled and positioned as if for a guillotine. Instead, he used one hand to push Koscheck’s head down and the other to unleash his signature strikes, one after another, until Koscheck was curled up and Herb Dean was waving things off.
The win over notorious black hat Koscheck came 3:57 in and was cheered wildly by the fans. It also moved Lawler’s record to 20-9 (1 NC) while Koscheck drops his second in a row and now stands at 19-7. "The referee was right to stop it," said Lawler. "I whacked him, man. Hard! He was doing nothing but laying down taking big shots."
Watch Lawler's post-fight interview
UFC 157 Main Card Results: Ronda Makes History
By Laura Gilbert February 23, 2013