Ronda Rousey will headline UFC 157 in February. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will waste no time in testing the pay-per-view drawing power of one Ronda Rousey.
Crowned as the first women’s champion in the promotion’s history on Thursday, Rousey will defend her 135-pound title against fellow Strikeforce import Liz Carmouche in the UFC 157 main event on Feb. 23 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. A bronze medalist in Olympic judo in 2008, Rousey has emerged as one of MMA’s newest superstars, finishing all six of her opponents with first-round armbars, five of them in less than a minute. Her list of victims includes Miesha Tate, whom she submitted in March to capture Strikeforce gold.
Carmouche, 28, began her professional career in 2010, rattling off five consecutive victories en route to title shot against then-Strikeforce bantamweight queen Marloes Coenen. Though “Girl-Rilla” gave the champion all she could handle, the experienced Coenen pulled out a fourth-round submission to retain her belt. A decision loss to Sarah Kaufman followed for Carmouche, who then rebounded with a pair of wins in her last two outings under the Invicta Fighting Championships banner, putting away Ashleigh Curry and Kaitlin Young.
Rousey, who turns 26 in February, can already feel the burden of expectation as part of the first-ever women’s fight inside the Octagon.
“I don’t even know what to make of it,” she said. “It means a lot, and I feel like we have a lot to prove at this event. No one is going to be disappointed. I think the women are here to stay, and we’re gonna prove it.”
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