Just in case anyone is wondering why Ronda Rousey is headlining her first UFC event ahead of title contenders Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida, Dana White has three simple words for you.
"She's the champ."
That was the backbone of the UFC president's rebuttal to media members at the Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale on Saturday as he fielded questions (via MMA Fight Corner):
She's the champ. You will never see a [different] situation in any fight, whether men, women, the lightest weight division there is. If you're the champion, you're the headliner. You're the top of the card. I've seen some people talking s--- about, "Oh, the women's fight is headlining." Ronda Rousey is a badass, she's the champ, her opponent stepped up to the plate and wanted this fight with her when no one, others didn't. I don't give a s--- what they say, that's a fact.
White also reiterated the fact that the UFC, unlike other promotions, has made a point to never underbook their own fighters where they're holding a champion belt.
Regardless of the fighter or the specific weight class, the champion always gets top billing—which apparently includes the UFC's newly-crowned women's bantamweight title-holder:
What people don't realize is there was a time and a day when we put the [155-pound] division and headlined it with a title fight and people said, "You can't headline a title fight [with] BJ Penn and Jens Pulver in a title fight headlining. This is ridiculous." BJ Penn became one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts and a huge pay-per-view draw.
Public skepticism aside, Rousey will enter the UFC as the main event for her first bout on Feb. 23 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
"Rowdy" Rousey will be defending her title against top-ranked bantamweight Liz Carmouche, a fellow Strikeforce veteran and two-time Invicta FC fighter.
This marks the third MMA event in a row where Rousey's led the card as the main attraction, following two Strikeforce title bouts against Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman.
Notably, Henderson vs. Machida will be slotted as the co-main event for the evening, marking the first time that the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and two-division PRIDE champion has not headlined an MMA event since his UFC 100 bout with Michael Bisping.