UFC women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey made her promotional debut with an emphatic performance. At UFC 157, she was a very heavy favorite and managed to secure her signature armbar victory inside the first round against Liz Carmouche. In a somewhat risky move, the UFC decided to have her carry the event as headliner, and she performed ably with a 450K buyrate.
Her role as The Ultimate Fighter 18 coach has only furthered the love/hate relationship she had with MMA fans before coming to the UFC. Her repeated emotional responses with fellow coach and upcoming contender Miesha Tate have somewhat sullied some fans' perception of Rousey as the season has progressed. UFC president Dana White was asked if he had any concern about the backlash in the media scrum following Saturday's UFC Fight Night 32. Dana responded with indifference to the criticism and full support for his women's champ:
It's not the way she portrayed herself; it's who she is. It's why women fight in the UFC, because of her. I could care less if you don't like her or you like her. It doesn't matter to me. She's the world champion, she's badass, and she goes out to win. We were talking about it when we were flying here on the plane. One of our financial guys was basically asking if the women's division would have got started without [Ronda Rousey]. I said, "We wouldn't have done it without Ronda. I wouldn't have even done it without Ronda. You could line up all the greatest girls on earth from here to f**king Pluto. And she's the one that when I met her, I said this chick is insanely competitive and just a different animal. She's what it took to get women in the UFC. Hate her or not, the reason all these girls fight in the UFC is because of her.
In the beginning everyone said I had a crush on Ronda Rousey. Are you f**king serious? Yeah, I had a crush on her, so I started women's MMA in the UFC (sarcasm). Gina Carano was hot too, you didn't see me bringing her into the UFC. Ronda Rousey is a different animal. She's a different animal, I'm telling you. And I know her a lot better than all of you do.
The thing is, with her and Miesha, she hates Miesha Tate. When she and Cat Zingano were gonna be the coaches, you heard them talk on the podium, the mutual respect. She hates Miesha Tate. Hates her. And anyone who's ever hated somebody before knows how that feels. I've hated a few people in my life so I know how that feels. Yes, when you hate somebody, you might stoop low and do some things that make you look like a jackass. But, oh well.
The feud between Rousey and Tate has been building since they first met in Strikeforce. Rousey came down from the Featherweight division to challenger Tate for the 135 lb title. The build up included trash talk from both sides and Tate has freely admitted since then that Rousey got in her head. This time, she says she's staying above the verbal conflicts while Rousey seems very emotionally involved in the match.
The win over Carmouche in February moved Rousey up to a career record of 7-0, with every win coming by first-round armbar. Tate made her own UFC debut in April in a number 1 conternder's match against Cat Zingano. Tate lost the fight by 3rd round TKO and Zingano earned the right to face off against Rousey on TUF and in the cage. However, a knee injury sidelined Cat and the UFC chose Tate to come in as a replacement. The two will square off in the co-main event of UFC 168 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.