Last month, UFC president Dana White shocked the MMA community when he announced the UFC would begin featuring women's fights. On Thursday, he proved he was serious about the idea.
According to TMZ, Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will make her UFC debut against Liz Carmouche in the headlining bout of UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif.
When White announced his intention to fold women's MMA into the UFC, fans clamored for Rousey to face off with former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos. Problems with that fight abounded, however. Not only is Santos currently suspended for steroid use, she's also in a higher weight class than Rousey and she claims her doctors won't let her cut down a class because it would be too dangerous for her.
With Santos out, Rousey has become the darling of female MMA, replicating the movie star aesthetics of Gina Carano and the ferocity of Santos. The mainstream attention Rousey's received has caught UFC's attention. The MMA starlet was on the cover of the latest ESPN the Magazine's "Body Issue" and has appeared all over TV and award shows.
Inside the cage, Rousey, a bronze medalist in judo at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, has been an absolute dynamo, finishing every one of her opponents inside of the first round.
She'll put her inaugural UFC women's bantamweight belt on the line when she faces Carmouche, a former Marine with a 7-2 record.
As headlining fights, women's bouts are largely untested. Rousey has drawn strong ratings for her Showtime Strikeforce fights, but the UFC and its pay-per-view cards are another beast.
White seems to be buttressing the Rousey-Carmouche tilt and the card as a whole with a light heavyweight No. 1 contender fight between Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. The two light heavyweight combatants are both big names and Henderson was supposed to challenge Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 151 before a knee injury forced him out of the matchup.