According to Ronda Rousey, she was never in any danger.
The UFC women’s bantamweight champion successfully defended her crown on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 157, using her signature armbar to submit Liz Carmouche in the first round. Though Rousey would go on to submit her challenger in typical fashion, the judoka looked to be in trouble early against Carmouche at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
After scoring with a trip, Rousey make a positional error while sitting on a scarf hold and allowed Carmouche take her back. In response, the Olympic bronze medalist stood and tried to pry the challenger’s hooks off as Carmouche cranked on her mouth and jaw, working for a rear-naked choke. Rousey’s face appeared contorted and crushed, but the champion said she was more concerned with a potential wardrobe malfunction than the technique.
“The good thing is that, on the ground, I feel so comfortable in every position that I don’t feel like I’m ever in any danger, so I feel comfortable taking a lot of risks. I felt fine with her on my back. I felt very calm and in control, even though it didn’t look like that,” Rousey told Fox Sports after her victory. “I was thinking more about keeping my sports bra up while she was trying to choke me. If you actually look, at one point, I was adjusting myself when she was on my back. [I was] multitasking.”
The champion managed to twist her hips and shake Carmouche off, after which she recovered the scarf hold and transitioned to the armbar.
“I was worried I was running out of time. I take my time a lot more in MMA than I did in judo, so I was just trying to take my time and do it right,” said Rousey. “But I was also worried because I didn’t know how much time I had, so it was a hard balance to find, I guess.”
Rousey eventually found her favorite technique, though Carmouche resisted till the bitter end, submitting with just 11 seconds remaining in the opening round.
“I knew she would be very, very tough. I was expecting to go five rounds,” said Rousey. “With 10 seconds’ difference, it could have gone to the next round and been very different. She’s extremely tough. Much respect to her.”
Despite being just hours removed from her first UFC title defense, Rousey already had her eyes set on her next challenge.
“I’m very interested to see Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano at the ‘TUF’ finale,” said Rousey. “I’m going to watch that fight [in person], and I’d be very interested in taking on the winner.”