The Honda Center in Los Angeles was packed to the brim with thousands of fans, all of them cheering wildly as UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey officially ascended to the top of the sport with her armbar win over Liz Carmouche.
It was the first female fight in UFC history, but for fans of Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, it carried with it a real sense of deja vu. Only the venue and the cage, the iconic UFC Octagon, were different.
The result was all too familiar. In six previous professional fights, Rousey had ended affairs in much the same way.
Each time, her victory was secured in the first round.
Each time, it was by armbar.
The fight with Carmouche ended in exactly the same manner. To her credit, the challenger did better than many expected, even threatening Rousey with a choke early in the bout. By the end of the first round, however, it was business as usual as Rousey finished the bout by armbar in the closing seconds.
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Ronda Rousey defeats Liz Carmouche via armbar in Round 1 at 4:49 to become the first UFC Women's Champion! http://t.co/OLrRXXCoq12/24/2013, 5:12:37 AM
"I've never seen anyone driven like this," Rousey's manager Darin Harvey said. "She has a one-track mind. And that's winning. Not just winning. Destroying. She's driven to destroy."
The armbar, Rousey's most dangerous hold, was passed down from mother to daughter. Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, Rousey's mother, won the bulk of her bouts with the submission, which puts torque on an opponent's elbow joint, on her way to becoming the first American world judo champion back in 1984. She taught the hold to her daughter in unconventional fashion, often following her around the house and attempting to submit her when Rousey wasn't paying attention.
"My style came from my mom and my early coaching," Rousey said. "My mom was really innovative in the judo world. She was the first woman to really spend any time on strength and conditioning. And the first to spend a lot of time on the ground."
There's little doubt that Rousey internalized her early instruction. The question now, as the UFC prepares for its new future as a promoter of women's fights, isn't whether or not Rousey is worthy of taking her place among the boys. That much is obviously true.
The question now is whether or not the UFC can find anyone who can match her athleticism, skill and palpable fury.
"It's no surprise to me that she's taken the MMA world by storm," two-time Olympic medalist and former Rousey training partner Jimmy Pedro Jr. told Bleacher Report. "I don't think, physically, any girl can match her. And technically, when you look at the universe of women and the sports they might come from and how Ronda matches up with them, I don't think there's anyone who's going to beat her for a very long time."
Finding an appropriate opponent will be the UFC's challenge. President Dana White already has two matches in mind, bouts with Miesha Tate (who must first get by Cat Zingano in April) and Sara McMann. After that?
"Someone will pop up," White told Bleacher Report. "They always do."
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