Ronda Rousey survived a scare against Liz Carmouche in the UFC 157 headliner. | Jeff Gross/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Liz Carmouche very nearly shocked the world.
Carmouche put Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey in serious trouble for the first time in her career before succumbing to what most viewed as inevitable: a first-round armbar in the historic UFC 157 headliner on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Rousey (7-0, 1-0 UFC) elicited the tapout 4:49 into round one, bringing a decisive close to the first women’s bout in UFC history.
“Is this real life right now?” Rousey asked. “I’m not sure.”
Her latest triumph was easily her most difficult.
Carmouche (8-3, 0-1 UFC) capitalized on the judoka’s trademark aggression, moved to her back a little more than a minute into the fight and went to work on a submission of her own, first a standing rear-naked choke and then a neck crank. Rousey was in visible distress but fought through the pain and panic to free herself from Carmouche’s clutches.
The 26-year-old Olympic bronze medalist powered into top position and methodically softened Carmouche for her patented maneuver. The challenger tried desperately to escape, but Rousey was relentless in her pursuit of the finish and finally isolated the arm after an extended struggle.
“That’s one thing I’ve had to learn in MMA is to take my time, because in judo, I only have a few seconds,” Rousey said. “I was just trying to do it perfectly on the first try.”
Machida Dodges, Outpoints Henderson
In the co-main event, one-time light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida kept Dan Henderson at arm’s reach, peppered him with well-placed strikes and settled for a split decision. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them for Machida (19-3, 11-3 UFC), who has won three of his last four fights.
Henderson (29-9, 6-3 UFC) never found a home for his fabled right hand. Machida delivered a surprising trip takedown late in the first round, cracked the former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder with knees and kicks in the second and survived a takedown from Henderson in the third. The 42-year-old Team Quest veteran tried for 15 minutes to close the distance on Machida but was oftentimes left swinging at air against the elusive karateka.
“He is a very tough fighter,” Machida said. “He’s a great opponent for me, and I have a lot of respect for him. My strategy tonight was to keep it standing up, and I think I did it.”
Faber Choke Submits Menjivar
Former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Urijah Faber became the first man to submit Ivan Menjivar in more than a decade, as he coaxed a tapout from the Tristar Gym export with a standing rear-naked choke 4:34 into the first round of their bantamweight battle.
Faber (27-6, 3-2 UFC) attacked with vicious elbows from inside the Menjivar (25-10, 4-3 UFC) guard, softening him with a relentless volley of ground-and-pound. As the El Savador native scrambled to his feet, Faber transitioned to his back, trapped him in a restrictive body triangle and cinched the choke for the finish.
“Ivan is a very crafty veteran, and he’s a pioneer in this sport,” Faber said. “To get a submission like that, I just attacked the neck. He had to honor that. He let me hold on too long, and that was the end. I made some adjustments, and I’m going to make more.”
Volume Striking Carries McGee
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 winner Court McGee enjoyed a successful maiden voyage at 170 pounds, as the former middleweight cruised to a unanimous verdict over Josh Neer. All three cageside judges struck the same decision: 30-27 in favor of McGee (15-3, 4-2 UFC).
McGee overwhelmed the Pat Miletich protégé with a high-volume striking attack, mixing kicks to the legs and body with punches to the head. He almost finished it late in the first round, where he blasted “The Dentist” with a crippling left hook to the body and swarmed with punches on the ground. The notoriously durable Neer (33-13-1, 6-9 UFC) weathered the assault and mounted a brief comeback in round two, but he did not have enough in the tank to turn the tide completely.
McGee delivered a pair of takedowns in the third round, punctuating his first victory since September 2011.
Returning Lawler Stops Koscheck
Former EliteXC champion Robbie Lawler stopped Josh Koscheck with thudding first-round ground-and-pound in a welterweight showcase. In his first Octagon appearance since October 2004, Lawler (20-9, 5-3 UFC) sealed the deal 3:57 into round one.
Koscheck (17-7, 15-7 UFC) struck for a pair of takedowns but failed to keep his heavy-handed adversary corralled. The 30-year-old Lawler sprawled out of a takedown, blasted Koscheck with a left hand and polished him off with a series of right hands on the ground.
“I was raining down hard shots, and he was going to take a beating,” Lawler said. “He wasn’t coming back.”
More UFC 157 »
• UFC 157 Prelims: Brendan Schaub Neutralizes, Defeats Lavar Johnson
• UFC 157 Play-by-Play