Ronda Rousey clamped down another armbar and forced Liz Carmouche to tap out with 11 seconds left in an eventful first round to retain the women’s division belt at UFC 157 at Honda Center on Saturday night.
“There is no amount of press that can save these girls from me,” Rousey said of her much-hyped bout in her post-fight interview.
Maybe. But Carmouche came closer than anybody to beating Rousey and logged the longest fight against her.
Carmouche was atop Rousey’s back as she tried to apply a rear naked choke. Carmouche wasn’t quite able to get her arm completely around Rousey’s neck and Rousey was eventually able to free herself.
“That (hold) is hard to pull off,” Carmouche said. “If a person has a lot of heart, they can fight through it like she did. She was successful. I got teeth marks from getting (the hold) down to her mouth and thinking, ‘Maybe I can get her to tap by knocking her teeth out.’ That didn’t quite work out.”
Added Rousey on the bite marks on Carmouche’s forearm, “It was not intentional at all, dude.”
Carmouche did everything she could to get out of the armbar Rousey applied, but her machinations didn’t dissuade Rousey.
Rousey has used an armbar to win all seven of her pro fights.
“I’m very happy now,” Rousey said. “It’s starting to all feel normal up here a little bit. I think tomorrow when everything dies down and I can sit in a room and digest, is when I’m going to run around and do a little dance. Right now, I’m too tired to dance.”
Beyond Rousey and Carmouche, many of the 10 female fighters the UFC has signed in recent months were also in attendance. The other eight include Miesha Tate, Alexis Davis, Cat Zingano, Sara McMann, Germaine de Randamie, Julie Kedzie, Sarah Kaufman and Amanda Nunes.
Tate will take on Zingano at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in April.
The rest of the matchups are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The co-main featured a fight that UFC president Dana White said would determine who light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones would face next.
But the fans here begged to differ with the outcome after Lyoto Machida earned victory via a split decision over Dan Henderson, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
Boos rained down, drowning out the televised post-fight interview. The packed house didn’t appreciate another technically sound fight by Machida, who kept Henderson at a distance for stretches.
“I just want to say sorry it wasn’t good for you,” Machida said as his interview was muffled out by jeers. “Thanks for coming.”
Urijah Faber made a strong pitch to fight for the bantamweight title — from atop Ivan Menjivar’s back no less. Faber was causing damage on the ground, but it wasn’t until Menjivar stood up late in the first round that Faber was able to sink in a crowd-pleasing submission.
Faber applied a rear naked choke and within a few seconds, a standing Menjivar tapped out.
“I want the title,” Faber said. “I still think I will get the UFC belt and tonight was about proving that’s still in my future. Do I deserve the title shot next? That word ‘deserve’ keeps getting thrown around but you deserve whatever you get in this sport.”
Renan Barao currently has the interim bantamweight title, a belt he defended against Michael McDonald last week. Dominick Cruz, who hasn’t fought since October 2011, holds the belt in the division, but it’s unclear when he’ll return from multiple serious knee injuries.
Robbie Lawler had a triumphant return to UFC after having a more than eight-year absence as he pummeled Josh Koscheck. Lawler earned the TKO victory as the fight was halted with a minute left in the first round.
“I’m not surprised it went that way.” said Lawler, whose last UFC contest was in October 2004. “I hit him very hard, the referee was right to stop it. I whacked him, man. Hard. He was doing nothing but laying down taking big shots.”
Welterweights Court McGee and Josh Neer both entered their undercard fight on two-fight skids. McGee, who moved down from middleweight, ended his slump as he dominated all but a few moments of the bout winning via a unanimous decision (all three judges scored it 30-27).
“I felt great at 170 pounds,” McGee said. “This was a great move for me. I felt stronger, faster and had a lot more gas.”
In an early Fight of the Year candidate, Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice waged a back-and-forth featherweight brawl during the prelims shown on FX. Bermudez won via a split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
Grice had the edge early, stunning Bermudez with a couple counter left hooks. Grice, however, was unable to cause any further damage as the fight progressed. Bermudez took over, shifting the action with a huge right that stumbled Grice.
“That was insane,” Bermudez said. “Somewhere around the second round I woke up and thought, ‘Oh, I’m in a fight. I think I am in California somewhere.’ If he’d given me a reason, maybe I would have quit.”
Bermudez kept the pressure on, but Grice rallied each time with a flurry of his own — a display that drew ovations from the crowd.
“The crowd was going nuts, but all I could think was, ‘Please, please go down and stay down,’” said Bermudez, who embraced Grice after the third and final round came to an end. “That was an honor to fight that guy.”
Grice won the first round, 10-9, and Bermudez took the third by the same score on all three judges’ cards. The difference was round two. Bermudez took the second round, 10-9, on two of the three judges’ cards, with the other giving it 10-9 to Grice.
“In that last round I just kept throwing, man,” Grice said. “I thank God he blessed me with a hard head, but looks like he blessed Dennis with a hard head, too.”
The first fight of the FX undercard was almost as close, as lightweight Sam Stout earned a split over Caros Fodor (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) in their lightweight bout.
“I thought I won, but it was close,” said Stout, who improved to 20-8-1. “It was a tough, hard three rounds and you never know when you are in there what the judges are looking for — or what they are seeing in there.”
Fan favorite (and beard aficionado) Michael Chiesa submitted Anton Kuivanen with a rear naked choke. The victory improved Chiesa to 9-0 as a pro with all but one of those fights ending in a stoppage.
“We knew he’d go for the KO early and then we’d take over in the second and that’s what happened,” Chiesa said.
Also, Brendan Schaub earned a victory by unanimous decision over Lavar Johnson (30-27 on all three cards) in a heavyweight bout that Schaub dominated on the mat.