Rousing UFC debut for ‘Rowdy’ Ronda

Published on Monday, 2/25/13, at 1:11 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

The history of women’s sports was altered Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, where ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey lived up to the hype and gave everyone the finish that was expected.

UFC President Dana White said early in the week that no UFC fighter had ever garnered the media attention demanded of Rousey prior to this groundbreaking event. The pressure was on the former bronze medalist in JUDO at the 2008 Olympics.

After the colossally disappointing co-main event, the ladies needed to put on a thriller to save the show. And neither woman disappointed.

Rousey shook off a legitimate submission attempt from Liz Carmouche, the former Marine who showed up to win without any thoughts of a paycheck. Carmouche locked on a serious face crank from the back mount early in the first round. It was tight enough to turn the champ’s face beet red and would have made most women tap, but that wasn’t on Rousey’s itinerary on this night.

Rousey fought off Carmouche and then decided to go to work. She put her judo skills on display, demonstrated her heart and toughness, and then executed her signature move.

After patiently working for a dominant position while dishing out ground-and-pound punishment, Rousey locked in the arm bar and forced Carmouche to tap with 11 seconds left in the opening stanza.

Rousey remains unbeaten in seven professional fights with seven first-round arm bars. She remains the UFC’s women’s bantamweight champion with her next opponent likely to come out of the winner between Miesha Tate and Cat Zingford at the TUF finale on April 13.

In a post-fight preview, Rousey said she experienced the toughest challenge of her career. And without a doubt, Carmouche with reap the benefits of her valiant effort.

Rousey has established herself as one of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts history already, and she’s just getting warmed up.

Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida captured a split-decision win over Dan Henderson as a minus-220 favorite. Machida hooked up his backers as a minus-220 favorite. Two judges had it 29-28 for Machida, while one had it 29-28 for Henderson.

The night’s biggest upset came in ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler’s first Octagon appearance since 2004. The veteran welterweight finished Josh Koscheck with a first-round KO at the 3:57 mark of Round 1. Lawler hooked up his backers with monster payouts in the plus-300 range (and better for gamblers who placed wagers early in the week).

In a battle of bantamweight contenders, Urijah Faber defeated Ivan Menjivar with a rear-naked choke late in the first round. Faber took care of his betting supporters as a heavy favorite.

Court McGee was another favorite to prevail, beating Josh Neer by unanimous decision 30-27 on all three scorecards.

Just as disappointing as the Machida-Henderson bout was what I expected to be a first-round KO of someone in a stand-up war. The oddsmakers also thought so, making the ‘over/’under’ 1.5 rounds with ‘under’ backers forced to risk a -220 price (risk $220 to win $100).

But Brendan ‘The Hybrid’ Schaub stopped a two-fight losing streak by beating Lavar ‘Big’ Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27 three times). Schaub, who closed as a favorite in the minus-145 range, executed early takedowns in each round.

The fight was boring but Schaub got the win he desperately needed by maintaining better position on the ground for 15 minutes. Johnson did a poor job of defending takedowns and getting back to his feet afterwards.

The favorites went 8-4 in the 12 UFC 157 fights.

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