Did you watch the historic UFC-157 PPV event Saturday night? If not, you missed an exciting bout in which 26 year-old Ronda Rousey became the first female to ever win an Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rousey beat opponent Liz Carmouche via armbar submission to claim the UFC’s first female bantamweight belt.
What’s remarkable about this match is that UFC president Dana White was adamant about not allowing women into the testosterone-driven arena of mixed martial arts. As recently as last year, White said it would NEVER happen. Rousey was the one who singularly changed his mind. White has since signed nearly a dozen female fighters, building a division specifically to put Rousey to the test and he had her headline the night as the main card.
Rousey comes to MMA via judo. She was the youngest U.S. Olympic entrant in the discipline at age 17 in 2004, and she went on to become the first American female medalist by winning a bronze in Beijing in 2008.
There are couple interesting things to mention at this point.
Rousey’s mother, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars is a former world champion judoka. You can follow her blog and Twitter account for a personal, behind-the-scenes look at Rousey’s career (as well as a host of other fascinating info ranging from mathematics to game development). De Mars is responsible for helping Rousey perfect her trademark armbar—a move designed to dislocate an opponent’s elbow.
In a recent UFC media conference call, Rousey noted that having a mom who was once the best in the world in her sport made everything seem attainable. “She gave me confidence from the beginning,” Rousey said of her mother. Go Mom!
Rousey’s dominance in the ring is unprecedented. Prior to Saturday’s fight she had met six opponents in mixed martial arts action since 2011. All six were dispatched in the first round by her mom’s favorite hold—the armbar.
Like all women trying to compete in a male dominated world, Rousey has had to prove herself every step of the way. And every step of the way, she’s silenced critics and convinced skeptics that she is every bit as dedicated and talented as her male counterparts.
Rousey is a celebrated maverick but in a LA Times interview just prior to the fight, she said:
I don’t think of myself as extra cool or extra-pioneering.… I’m just too stubborn to fit into whatever molds were ever there.
Rousey’s walk-out song Saturday night was Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and the sell-out crowd roared as she became the first woman to enter the octagon.
In five minutes of riveting action, Rousey took on former Marine Liz Carmouche, who served three duties including one in Iraq, In the early moments of the opening round, Carmouche threatened to finish the fight with a neck crank but Rousey confidently survived the brief scare to maintain her perfect record. She is now 7-0-0.
Behind every good fighter is a supportive mother who teaches a strong armbar. Congrats @rondarousey and @drannmaria!!
p.s. if you want a limited edition autographed Ronda Rousey photograph, consider backing mom’s new game on Kickstarter.