Ronda Rousey’s spectacular Octagon debut makes UFC, sports history

Feb 25, 2013, 2:39 AM | Updated: 2:53 am
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ANAHEIM — There’s an old saying that goes, “There are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes.” But let the record state that after UFC157’s historic main event on Saturday, there is now a third guarantee in life: Ronda Rousey by first round arm bar.

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic medalist in Judo, had the eyes of killer as she calmly made her way to the cage, unblinking and ready for war.

“I was actually less nervous walking out than I was for some of my fights,” Rousey said. “I felt like the UFC champion, and I know how hard I am working. This was a wild ride, and I can’t wait to get back in the Octagon.”

Her opponent, Liz Carmouche, a former Marine and the first openly gay fighter in UFC history, appeared more energetic as she bounced her way down through the crowd, high-fiving spectators with a huge smile on her face and soaking in the thunderous ovation she received upon entering the arena.

In a packed Honda Center, there was no sign of anyone sitting down as the first ever female fighters in the UFC made their way to the Octagon. After weeks of interviews, numerous public appearances, television spots and constant hounding by the public, it all came down to this historic moment for the two warriors.

All the weight that was placed upon Rousey leading up to the fight quickly turned into actual physical weight. After a perfectly executed hip toss by Rousey, Carmouche pulled off what was once thought nearly impossible by escaping and then swiftly taking the champion’s back.

Showing the true heart of champion, Rousey rose to her feet as Carmouche continued to do her best human backpack impersonation — crossing her arms around the Rousey’s neck and wrapping her legs around Rousey’s waist.

For a moment, the crowd let out a collective gasp, as the fighter they were led to believe was unbeatable looked to be on the verge of being strangled into submission.

“That was the most vulnerable a position I’ve been in so far in my career,” Rousey said afterward as her trainer helped remove her sweaty gloves. “That was pretty tight, that neck crank, and I was very happy to get out of it.

“She had the choke across my mouth and the angle pushed my mouth-guard out. Her forearm was pushing against my teeth and that couldn’t have been any more fun for her than it was for me. Crazy sport we’re in, huh?”

But Rousey kept her composure and with a quick shoulder toss, she broke free from the choke and brought the fight back to the ground, narrowly avoiding a loss that would’ve shocked the MMA world.

“It was a tricky situation to be in,” said Rousey at the post fight press conference. “I wasn’t worried but I was very aware of the severity of the situation.”

From there, Rousey showed why she became the first American female to medal in Judo, as she quickly caught Carmouche in a headlock and rained down punches.

“I thought I had it,” Carmouche acknowledged when asked about the neck crank. “If a person has heart, like she did, they can fight through it and she was successful.”

Almost as soon as they hit the ground, Rousey looked for what every fight fan knew was coming: her signature arm bar. With a quick spin of her hips, Rousey seized Carmouche’s arms and pulled as hard as she could. Carmouche, like the rest of the world, knew she could eventually be in this situation and managed to keep her arm bent and out of harm’s way for longer than any of the other women who have felt Rousey’s wrath.

But in the end, the former Marine became another victim of the “arm collector.”

“She had great technique and kept alternating how she was trying to pull the arm bar and ultimately she got it,” said Carmouche. “Just imagine bending back your finger to a point it’s not meant to go. I didn’t know how much time I had left otherwise I would’ve let it break just to go into the second round. It was locked in and she was able to work it into another submission and unlock my hands.”

Rousey made history in a sport dominated by men, and she more than lived up to the hype. In the process, she proved everyone who thought women had no place in the UFC wrong, headlining a big pay-per-view card.

“I’m just honored to be a part of it,” said Rousey. “This is something really special and it might take a while to sink in.”

But it took two fighters to make this history come true, and even with the loss, Carmouche held her head high and said she was proud to be a part of what Sports Illustrated called “the biggest moment in women’s sports since Title IX.”

“I’m honored just to be a part of the UFC,” said Carmouche. “This is a monumental mark in history and to participate in that, words can’t explain it.”

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