ANAHEIM, Calif. – It was déjà vu all over again, just on a much bigger stage.
In yet another dominant performance – though certainly with a very testy moment early – in a groundbreaking moment in sports history, Ronda Rousey did it again. The first UFC women's bantamweight champion stopped Liz Carmouche with – you guessed it – a first-round armbar in the first women's fight in UFC history.
The women's bantamweight title bout was the main event of Saturday's UFC 157 event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
Missed the first few prelims due to work, but caught most of the card. And it was pretty good. Onward!
Ronda Rousey over Liz Carmouche, R1 submission (armbar) - I mean, are we surprised here? I'll tell you what, Liz gave Rousey a real scare early. As good as Rousey is, Carmouche defended the initial clinch brilliantly and reversed position into a nasty neck crank attempt from the back. The whole time, I was thinking what a PR nightmare would be if, not only did Rousey lose, if she had her neck snapped in the very first women's fight in the UFC. To her credit, she hung tough and landed peppering shots from a side control / bulldog position before working the armbar from mount. I wasn't 100% impressed with her control, to be honest, as both her clinch and ground position were rather tenuous. Hopefully that'll come in time, because as much of a talent she is, it's clear she's got some room to grow. And she's in the best position to do so - she's young, she's got the belt, and she's got the UFC marketing team behind her. She got the win, it's very much her night - it's just that she isn't an invincible juggernaut, and frankly I think that's a more compelling thing. As for Carmouche, I'm very impressed with not only her performance in the fight, but with her composure in the post-fight interview. Easily the toughest test for Rousey, and she totally earned her spot on the roster.
Lyoto Machida over Dan Henderson, 3R split decision - Relatively light on action, but a fight with a ton of tension. Each guy is so good at capitalizing on an opponent's mistake, landing a big shot in a scramble. I was not super surprised at Machida's takedown in R1, because while Hendo has crazy good TDD, Machida's incredible at trips from the clinch due to his sumo background. Hard fight to call - neither guy had anything close to a significant edge in strikes, neither guy was hurt at any time, takedowns were dead even in opposing rounds. Who do you give more credit to: Machida's outstanding defense and sharp counters (including those knees when Dan charged in, ouch), or Hendo's aggression and leg kicks? For me, I had Machida with at least 2 rounds, but Hendo getting the nod wouldn't have been a robbery - and more significantly, it would've set up a more marketable opponent for the LHW belt.
Urijah Faber over Ivan Menjivar, 1R submission (RNC) - This was an excellent stylistic choice for Faber, and it showed. While Menjivar landed an admittedly slick hip toss early and an upkick halfway through, he had a lot of trouble defending Faber's elbows that shattered the full guard. Additionally, Faber's submission awareness/defense and work rate negated another strength of Menjivar's, both on paper and in reality. Once back on the feet, Faber did as he does with a vintage scramble to the back to finish it with a standing RNC. Beautiful in motion, and an obvious contender for Sub of the Night. No shame for Menjivar, as he's a tough test for the young bucks at 135 - he was simply at a severe matchup disadvantage. Also, the fact that after every loss of his, Faber has come back with a win by submission. Scary.
Court McGee over Josh Neer, 3R unanimous decision - Fun fight to watch, showing that the most entertainment can often come from guys with a lot of skill but some clear holes in their games. McGee's cardio and striking output is insane, putting up Nick Diaz numbers in R1 while setting a record for the most strikes at WW in one fight - in his first fight at WW. Crazy. Though Neer was badly hurt from liver shots early, he came back in R2 with a persistent jab and winging hooks. R3 was McGee's, no question, controlling and landing after a takedown for the final 2 minutes of the fight. McGee's got some assets, one of which may not get a lot of attention - his resilient skin. He ate a lot of stinging punches in R2 especially, but he didn't have a mark on him. I feel he's really gotta work on his power, though. He can do so in a way that allows him to retain that high output while keeping a knockout punch in reserve, when he gets an opportunity to finish. And for the sentimental favorite, who doesn't love Josh Neer's style? It's a bit self-destructive, but it's almost always entertaining. Check the disdainful expression after McGee's missed spinning head kick at the end of R2.
Robbie Lawler over Josh Koscheck, R1 TKO - The one thing that struck me at the start is how huge Lawler is at 170. He looked a bit soft at 185. We'll see how his cardio holds up, but he looked good tonight. Koscheck still has his cannonball shot at age 35, and while he was in control for the first few minutes, he ate several wrecking balls to the face after a reversal of position. To his credit, Koscheck was still alert with a somewhat questionable stoppage. I would've let it go a bit longer, as Kos does have rather good recovery, but really, one hand up (that's barely mitigating hard punches) in the fetal position is not the most intelligent defense ever.
Brendan Schaub over Lavar Johnson, 3R unanimous decision - Clear win for Schaub based on the unified rules, but one of the uglier, least entertaining fights this year. Lots of takedowns by Schaub for sure, but he landed few significant shots, it took him over 12 minutes to get to mount, and he lost that mount in less than 30 seconds. On top of that, he had a deep anaconda in R1, yet lost it because the other guy punched his way out of it. That's never supposed to happen. And that's to say nothing of the disparity between visible damage in favor of Johnson. We know what each guy can do at this point, and their lack of technical skill is holding back their physical gifts (Schaub's athleticism vs Johnson's quickness). Tonight was athleticism over power, and a reminder of how good we have it with well-rounded heavyweights like Velasquez, Dos Santos, and Cormier.
Michael Chiesa over Anton Kuivanen, 2R submission (RNC) - Kind of a trademark fight for each guy, both of them having their moments. R1 was easily Kuivanen's, defending all of Chiesa's takedowns while landing harder and more numerous punches on the feet. Chiesa seemed to stop playing around in R2, getting the clinch against the cage early before wrapping around the back and methodically working for the choke. That's Chiesa's game right there - resilience and pressure - along with Kuivanen's game - very solid grappling defense, but sometimes not quite enough against excellent grapplers. I think Kuivanen's still got a spot in the UFC. Fodor would be a great opponent for several reasons, and in the meantime, he's just gotta keep working on his ground game.
Dennis Bermudez over Matt Grice, 3R split decision - Easily the fight of the night to that point, and throwing the hat in the ring early for fight of the year. I've rarely seen anyone escape from a mount after eating 40 strikes. Not only did Grice slip out no worse for the wear, he reversed it on the feet nicely before dropping Bermudez with a killer left hook. The rest of the round was all Grice, and he carried that momentum through most of round 2. Bermudez was always in it, no more so than in the 3rd round. He came out strong landing big bombs, and had Grice not been against the cage, he would've been dropped more than once. Grice somehow survived, landing some very nice counters of his own, one of which launched blood from of Bermudez's mouth. This is the definition of a pick 'em fight, and though I had Grice winning due to the knockdown in R1 and the general control in R2, the decision going to Bermudez is just as valid. Fantastic fight.
Sam Stout over Caros Fodor, 3R split decision - Good fight as expected, with a decision that could've gone either way. Fodor landed the harder shots with more frequent takedowns, but Stout showed a more versatile game overall with the most dominant single round of the fight. Stout by armbar? Crazy, I know, but Stout almost had it in R1. His standing body shots and his knees in the clinch were the most effective, and I still want more jabs from him. He's not the quickest lightweight on the roster, but he does hit hard and I think leading with something besides rib roasters would help his game considerably. As for Fodor, he'll be back - the kid's got some power and resilience, and some would argue he took 2 rounds here.
nice review isk, your pretty spot on their.
I was surprisingly very entertained by the women's headliner. Would not be surprised if that got fotn, some very technical scrambles from both and great finish by rousey.
Was impressed by chiesa as well, took a few shots in the 1st as he usually does, but just shrugged them off. He capitalised from the smallest of openings to take kuivanen's back in the 2nd, and was relentless till he got the choke.
Overall good fight card, cannot wait till ufc on fox 8....match ups on that card are a joke !
Miss Ronda performed like a CHAELpion tonight
BRAVO! - - steak is on me missy....
Bonuses, $50k each -
FOTN - Bermudez / Grice
KOTN - Lawler
SOTN - Robertson (worth looking up - unconventional kneebar out of nowhere)
Just got home from Anaheim
Okay fights. Machida vs hendo was a let down
Title fight was the best I have seen in awhile
Bermundez vs grice was crazy
Hendo did not show up IMO. He looked a little old. Machida did just enough to get the W.
Lawler impressed me. Rousey, i am not surprised she won. Fabers standing RNC was also impressive.
That kneebar was gross. Very odd setup and basically torqued it sideways against his own knee.
Loved seeing Ronda win! In a way it was good the first round played out the way it did. Shows there's solid talent in WMMA. If she had come out and gotten the armbar in the first minute, people would have been moaning that it's too easy for her and 'blah blah blah'. That was an exciting five minute round.