It is rare in today's sports world where something can happen that is truly historic, but UFC 157 will feature a main event that will make history. Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche will be the first women to fight on a UFC card when they battle for Rousey's bantamweight championship.
For a long time, Dana White has said that women weren't going to be fighting in UFC. But every so often a star comes along with the talent and mainstream appeal to change even the most stubborn minds, and Rousey has done exactly that.
Rousey has been on a meteoric rise over the last 15 months, going from a lower-card act who was finishing people in less than a minute to one of the most recognizable fighters in this country.
Carmouche has gotten largely dismissed as the first UFC opponent for Rousey because she lost her last two Strikeforce fights, but she has defied the odds before.
Who has more at stake in the main event of UFC 157?
In her Strikeforce main show debut as a late replacement against champion Marloes Coenen, she won the first three rounds of the fight before getting caught in a triangle choke late in the fourth round.
Where: Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
When: Saturday, Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. ET
Watch: Facebook Preliminary card starts at 6:30 p.m.; FX Preliminary Card starts at 8 p.m.; Main Card starts at 10 p.m.
|Women's Bantamweight Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Liz Carmouche|
|Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson|
|Bantamweight Bout: Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar|
|Welterweight Bout: Court McGee vs. Josh Neer|
|Welterweight Bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler|
|FX PRELIMINARY CARD|
|Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub vs. Lavar Johnson|
|Lightweight Bout: Michael Chiesa vs. Anton Kuivanen|
|Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice|
|Lightweight Bout: Sam Stout vs. Caros Fodor|
|FACEBOOK PRELIMINARY CARD|
|Welterweight Bout: Kenny Robertson vs. Brock Jardine|
|Welterweight Bout: Jon Manley vs. Neil Magny|
|Welterweight Bout: Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Yuri Villefort|
What Rousey Must Do to Win
Judo is your ally; Exploit the submission game; Don't stand unless you have to
Rousey is a judo expert, even winning an Olympic medal in the sport at the 2008 Games in Beijing. She has made a smooth transition to mixed martial arts using that skill and shredding her opponents' arms with the armbar.
Carmouche is weak on the ground, which doesn't bode well for her against a fighter like Rousey. If this fight ends up on the mat, as it is almost guaranteed to at some point, it could be over in the blink of an eye.
While her stand-up game is improving, Rousey is still not someone who wants trade punches with an opponent. Her expertise is working the body and using her strength to get an opponent to the ground, where she can try to lock in the armbar.
What Carmouche Must Do to Win
Don't get into a power struggle; Strike quickly and move out; Get to the later rounds
Rousey is the most powerful female fighter in the sport today. Carmouche has power behind her strikes, but she is not nearly as strong as the champion. Staying away from a battle of muscles is paramount for Carmouche.
Since Carmouche's specialty is standing and punching, she has to be able to strike quickly with accuracy and power then move back to set up her next attack. You can't stay in Rousey's face very long, because she will wrap you up.
Carmouche has to challenge Rousey. What I mean by that is Carmouche has to do everything in her power to get this fight past the first round. We have never seen Rousey go longer than 4 minutes, 27 seconds in a fight.
We have seen in the past what happens to fighters who have never gone past the first round. Their stamina is gone and they have no power or energy to keep going. It won't be easy, but Carmouche has to do all she can to see this fight past the first five minutes.
What They Are Saying
If you want to know just how big a figure Rousey is in the world of women's mixed martial arts, just ask Chael Sonnen.
Granted, Sonnen has never been shy from using hyperbole to sell his own fights, but he is throwing all his chips on the table when discussing what Rousey can be for the sport.
Here is what Sonnen said during a recent episode UFC Tonight (via MMAWeekly.com):
Ronda Rousey reminds me of an old-school baseball player where she comes out to the mound and points to where she wants to put the ball and that’s what she does with the armbar. She doesn’t hide her strategy. She doesn’t lock cameras out of her training sessions. She says come and look at it, I’m going for the armbar, I’m going to get it, and (nine) straight times she has.
There is a lot riding on Rousey right now. She is being tasked with carrying the women's division in UFC on her own, especially since Cris Cyborg, who would have been the biggest money opponent for Rousey, asked for and was granted a release from UFC last week.
However, for all the talk about Rousey breaking barriers, there have to be other female fighters who can step up and give the division depth. Having a star at the top is great, but if no one challenges her, it is not going to last.
Undercard Fight to Watch: Michael Chiesa vs. Anton Kuivanen
This will be the first main show that Chiesa will be competing on. He won The Ultimate Fighter 15 in impressive fashion by submitting Al Iaquinta in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Even though he has yet to prove himself on the UFC stage, Chiesa has made that rear naked choke his go-to finishing move. He has won his last four fights with that hold, and six of his eight career wins have come by submission.
Kuivanen is still relatively new to UFC, making just his third appearance with the promotion. He spent years fighting with the Cage and Fight Festival promotions before getting his shot at a UFC on Fuel event in February 2012.
Even though he does have a better stand-up style than Chiesa, Kuivanen also likes to work the fight on the ground. This could turn into a great battle of wills and whoever blinks first will find themselves locked in a submission hold.
Main Event Prediction
Rousey looks like the most unstoppable force in mixed martial arts outside of Anderson Silva. She has a long way to go before building that kind of legacy, but until someone proves they can hang with her, you can't bet against the Rowdy one.
Ronda Rousey wins via first-round submission