Anyone who’s ever met Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White will tell you that, in addition to being a dynamic, abrasive and vulgar quote machine, once he’s made up his mind about something, getting him to change his point of view is like asking a hammerhead shark to kindly let go of your throat. So when he insisted that women would never fight in a UFC event, everyone in the mixed martial arts world knew that his decision was set in stone.
Why, then, did White do the unthinkable and change his mind?
The real question is not why – it’s who. And that who is Ronda Rousey, a hard-nosed, supremely skilled bantamweight who will give the UFC a long-overdue dose of female empowerment when she battles Liz Carmouche in UFC 157’s Main Event at Honda Center on Feb. 23.
“My thing with the female fighting is that I love Ronda Rousey, man. She’s as tough and as nasty as it comes,” White says.
The trash-talking Rousey, who probably has a soft, girly side, has developed this annoying little habit of hyper-extending the arms of her opponents until they quit – usually before they’re seriously injured. In all six of her pro bouts, she has submitted every foe with an “arm bar” – in the first round. If she has dislocated an opponent’s elbow in the process, well, it’s really not Ronda's problem.
Fighting isn’t new to Rousey. At just 17, the SoCal native qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, becoming the youngest judo practitioner in the entire competition. In Beijing four years later, she became the first American to win an Olympic medal (bronze) in women’s judo since its inception as an Olympic sport in 1992. Her competitive nature is never far below the surface.
“Fighting is about finishing your opponent,” Rousey says. “I think that fighters who just try to win by points and come away with a win are actually bad for the sport.”
Before White and his staff created the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Division, Rousey ruled that weight class in Strikeforce, a popular pro MMA league that was later purchased by UFC. White actually promoted her – an unprecedented move – to UFC’s undisputed champ soon after the ink dried in the Strikeforce sale. (Got a problem with that? You tell her.)
Rousey’s upcoming opponent, Liz Carmouche, isn’t exactly the proverbial lamb being sent to slaughter. The former U.S. Marine, who did three tours of duty in the Middle East, is the world’s No. 7- ranked bantamweight. Four of her seven wins were by technical knockout; two were by submission (a neck choke and the aforementioned arm bar, in case you’re keeping score); and only one was by judges’ decision. Nevertheless, despite Carmouche’s impressive credentials, she is considered a heavy underdog.
Six other bouts will be on the Honda Center fight card. Two of the most highly anticipated fights (translated: blood may be involved) pit light-heavyweights Dan Henderson against Lyoto Machida, and bantamweights Urijah Faber against Ivan Menjivar.
But make no mistake: The Rousey/Carmouche bout will be the main attraction. Dana White demanded this – and that is not open to discussion. hondacenter.com