Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche: the Matchup that Changed Women’s MMA - Mid Hudson News (2024)

  • April 27, 2024
Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche: the Matchup that Changed Women’s MMA - Mid Hudson News (3)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a household name now, and big fights in the women’s fight game generate as much interest, anticipation and speculation as fights in the men’s. Early pioneers of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) such as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg and Misha “Cupcake” Tate have played a big part in bringing women’s (MMA) into the mainstream. Shows of brutal knockout power, technical fighting excellence, general toughness and more have all captured the interest of the world and shown that men aren’t the only ones who can deliver a thrilling Octagon tear-up. Below is a look back to where it all began for women in the UFC, which took place with a bout between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, and how this paved the way for more women to come forward and prove their mettle in the Octagon.

UFC 157: Ronda Rousey v Liz Carmouche

It was in 2012 that Dana White, the UFC president, announced that the headliner for UFC 157 would feature a matchup between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche for the bantamweight title and presented Rousey with the bantamweight title belt.

It would be the first time women had gone head to head in the Octagon, and the UFC was really laying it on the line with the bout. Fans, who were used to seeing competitive bouts would get bored if Rousey, who had become dominant in the women’s MMA in the Strikeforce organization, just ran through overmatched opponents. The president had to find a fighter who could provide a challenge, and they believed they’d found it in Liz Carmouche, a tough US Marine Corps veteran and rising MMA star who had a record of 8-2. Rousey entered the fight as the favorite in the and even those who weren’t experts on how to bet on sports were enticed by the generous odds.

The moment of truth finally arrived on February 23, 2013, in Anaheim, California, at the Honda Center. Early in the first round, Carmouche came close to lifting the title after locking in a rear naked choke on Rousey, but the former Olympic judoka was having none of it. She shook it off, fought her way back into the round and settled the match at 4:49 of the first round with her trademark armbar, sealing the place of women’s MMA in the UFC.

All you other ladies of mixed martial arts, now it’s your turn

The bout between Rousey and Carmouche had materialized because Dana White could no longer ignore the talent he was seeing in ladies divisions in other organizations and felt the time was right to give ladies matchups their shot in the UFC. The fight paved the way for a legion of ultra-tough female fighters desiring to test their skills in the Octagon to come forward.

As well as Miesha Tate and Cris Cyborg, the Octagon has seen skillful fighters such as Zhang Wei, Amanda Nunes, “Thug” Rose Namajunas, Joana Jendrzejczyk, Hollie Holm, Carla Esparza, Michelle Waterson, Paige VanZant and a host of other female fighters all step onto its mat since then.


Amanda Nunes was living and training in the United States at the time of the fight and had already fought for Strikeforce and Invicta FC. Seeing women’s MMA break into the UFC was something she and a lot of other ladies MMAs was a moment had been waiting for. She knew the fight was huge and that one day she too would be fighting for the UFC. Later she’d win the women’s bantamweight title off Miesha Tate and, in her next fight, as she’d also predicted, knock out Ronda Rousey.

The fight was also inspirational for former Bellator MMA flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and UFC flyweight fighter Katlyn Chookagian. Macfarlane had been invited to train at the same gym as Carmouche. The fight and training at that gym made her believe it was possible to reach a level of fame as a fighter she’d never thought possible. For Chookagian, seeing the fight inspired her that MMA could be more than a hobby. She saw it was possible to make a career out of battling in the cage, rather than MMA being something she did outside of her day job.

Demolishing stereotypes and changing perceptions

Female fighters have had to surmount a range of obstacles, including lack of recognition, pay disparity and limited opportunities. The battle between Rousey and Carmouche has helped these and other women in MMA to break down the barriers and command the same amount of respect as their male counterparts. They’ve used society’s biases and limitations as fuel to drive them to achieve. Every misconception is a chance to change these perceptions by showcasing their strength, skill and spirit.

The headline event of Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 was one that changed ladies MMA. Fighters who had been fighting until then in other organizations had seen two female fighters make it onto the biggest fight game stage in MMA. It demonstrated to them it was possible to make a professional career out of MMA and break through the barriers that had been holding women back in the fight game.

Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche: the Matchup that Changed Women’s MMA - Mid Hudson News (4)

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Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche: the Matchup that Changed Women’s MMA - Mid Hudson News (2024)


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