The following is a guest article by Nat.
On a UFC card that features a showdown between former light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida and former PrideFC multi-division champion and MMA legend Dan Henderson, the story of the night will be on the 135lb woman they call “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
If you’re an MMA fan, you already know that the former Olympic bronze medalist is a superstar in the making, but UFC 157 will be the night Ronda Rousey becomes a household name. Combining striking blonde looks, an Olympic pedigree, a penchant for talking trash, and most importantly — an undefeated 6-0 record with every fight ending in a brutal 1st round armbar, Rowdy is single-handedly responsible for bringing women’s MMA into the UFC. It was Rousey’s brilliant fighting style and winning personality that pushed UFC president Dana White to take a chance on women’s MMA — despite once saying that he would never allow a female fighter inside the Octagon.
From UFC 1 in 1993 where Royce Gracie choked and cranked limbs on his way to a shocking tournament victory, to the breakout Ultimate Fighter Show in 2005, to the UFC’s network deal with Fox in 2011, MMA has come a long way from the day when it was just another obscure sport relegated to the fringe. On February 23, 2013, history will be made again as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche step into the Octagon in the first ever women’s MMA fight in the UFC. Below is a breakdown of the upcoming UFC 157 card in Anaheim, California.
Matt Grice vs. Dennis Bermudez
The opening fight of the night is a fairly unmemorable matchup between Matt Grice and Dennis Bermudez. Grice comes in as a solid test for Bermudez, who has rolled off 2 straight wins since losing to Diego Brandao in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 14 reality show.
Grice is a tough veteran, and in previous fights Bermudez has demonstrated a bad habit of leaving his chin up and exposed. However, expect an ever improving Bermudez to use his wrestling to pull off a close victory against the cagey veteran.
Chad Mendes vs. Manny Gamburyan
In Mendes’ last two fights since his 1st round knockout loss to featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, he has demolished two fighters who had no business being in the same cage with him. Maybe UFC featherweight matchmaker Sean Shelby wanted to boost Mendes’ confidence after his devastating knockout in his first title bid, but whatever the reason Mendes is finally getting back to facing legitimate competition.
While Gamburyan has not looked sharp since his losing title bid against Aldo in 2010, having lost 2 of his last 3 fights, Gamburyan’s strength, power, and grappling ability always makes him a tough test. A dominating performance for Mendes against the Armenian judoka would prove that his last 2 performances weren’t a result of subpar competition, but rather a hungry Mendes ready to fight his way back to a title shot.
The Team Alpha Male product holds the advantage in virtually every facet of the game, though he’ll have to watch out for Gamburyan’s dangerous overhand right. The question is whether he can look impressive against the tough Gamburyan, or if he’ll win a lackluster decision. Expect Mendes to win by stoppage or more likely a clear-cut 3-round decision.
Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler
This fight marks Robbie Lawler’s long awaited return to the UFC, as well as a his return to the welterweight division. It has been over 8 years since Lawler fought in the UFC, or at welterweight for that matter. In his last match inside the Octagon at UFC 50, a young Lawler lost to the late Evan Tanner by triangle choke. Since then, Lawler has had an up and down career outside the UFC, compiling a record of 12-6. The story with Lawler has always been the same — if he can keep it on the feet, “Ruthless” can hang with the best. But get him to the ground and he’s extremely vulnerable to submission and losing a smothering decision.
Welcoming Lawler back to the UFC is the always controversial Josh Koscheck. Koscheck comes into the fight coming off a razor thin loss to Johnny Hendricks. Prior to that, he won a razor thin decision over Mike Pierce. While Koscheck has a bad habit sometimes of having too much faith in his hands, it’s likely he won’t make that mistake here. Koscheck’s last 4 fights have all come against tough wrestlers, forcing him to stand and trade (Hendricks, Pierce, Hughes, St-Pierre), but prior to that, he won impressive decisions over strikers Paul Daley and Anthony Johnson using his lightning quick double leg takedown and punishing ground and pound.
If Koscheck uses his NCAA champion-level wrestling to bring this fight to the ground as many expect, it’ll be a long night for Lawler. Expect Koscheck to win a dominant unanimous decision, and possibly win by rear naked choke.
Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar
Urijah Faber takes on Ivan Menjivar in the 4th fight of the night, in a rematch of a 2006 encounter at TKO 24. In their first encounter, Faber won when Menjivar was disqualified due to an illegal kick. Both fighters have a chance to prove that they deserve to win here, but only one man will step out of the Octagon with his hand raised.
Ivan Menjivar has been impressive as of late, winning 4 out of 5 fights since entering the UFC. Urijah Faber on the other hand is coming off a loss against Renan “Barao” in a fight for the interim bantamweight championship. This promises to be a fun scrap, though the “California Kid” possesses all the tools to come out on top. Look for Faber to put the pressure on Menjivar and mix up takedowns with his striking to keep the Tristar product off-balance and on the defensive.
Although Faber might be the favorite here, you can never count out the tough “Pride of El Salvador”. After all, this is a 135 lb fighter who once fought welterweight king George St-Pierre at 170 lbs. Despite Menjivar’s considerable experience, expect the former featherweight WEC champion Faber to gut out an exciting decision and get back to his winning ways.
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson
The co-main event pits former light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida against former Pride welterweight and middleweight champ Dan Henderson. Despite Henderson’s Olympic Greco-roman pedigree, expect this fight to play out on the feet, where Henderson’s heavy right hand and crushing left hook will match up against Machida’s pin point karate striking. Here, Machida will likely keep the fight at range, throwing kicks and circling away while looking to counter Henderson’s looping shots, possibly mixing in some takedowns as well.
While Machida has the precision and accuracy to win a clear decision on the feet, he’s unlikely to stop the iron chinned Hendo. And while Henderson certainly has the power to put Machida’s lights out, it’s unlikely the Japanese-Brazilian striker will give him the chance to find his chin.
Another factor that may influence this is Dan Henderson’s long layoff due to a knee injury sustained in the training leading up to his UFC 151 title shot against Jon Jones. At the age of 42, the 14 month layoff could be a crucial factor in the fight.
While this is fantastic matchup between two MMA greats, Machida comes into the fight with all the advantages, at least on paper. The x-factor — as it always is in a Henderson fight — is Henderson’s dynamite right hand, which carries the power to instantly change any fight. Expect to Machida to win a 3 round decision, but not without a scare or two along the way, as Hendo throws some heavy leather his way.
Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche
Ronda Rousey enters the UFC with not only the charisma, good looks, Olympic pedigree, and hype of a future superstar, but with a highlight reel of violent throws and brutal, arm-breaking submissions. Many have said that the UFC isn’t in the women’s fight business — they’re in the Ronda Rousey business — and they might not be wrong. Coming in as an incredible 11-1 betting favorite, almost everyone expects Rousey to take care of business come February 23 against the underdog Carmouche.
As far as perceived dangerous sports go, MMA is actually quite safe as far as fatalities go, with no fatality ever recorded in a major promotion. But fighters like Rousey are the reason MMA is still a dangerous business — it’s not unusual to see her opponents clutching their arms in pain after Rousey rips off another one of her fight ending armbars.
Her opponent Liz Carmouche is a strong, tough, and game wrestler who has shown tremendous improvement since she entered professional MMA three years ago. In early 2011, a novice “Girl-Rilla” gave then Strikeforce champ Marloes Coenen all she could handle, winning the fight handily on the scorecards until she succumbed to a 4th round triangle choke. While Carmouche has certainly improved since the Coenen fight, a couple years isn’t enough to shore up your submission defense against a Rousey armbar. Expect the UFC’s first ever women’s bout to end quickly and in typical Rousey fashion — by brutal 1st round armbar.
Witness UFC history on February 23, 2013
With the first female fight in the UFC’s 20 year history, February 23, 2013 will be a historic night for the UFC. If you’ve never heard of Ronda Rousey until now, then you definitely won’t want to miss the action at UFC 157 in Anaheim, California. But if you’ve been following Rousey’s career then you already know that her fights are a must-see.
Nat is a full-time writer, SEO, and a martial arts fanatic. Nat regularly trains in Muay Thai (as a weekend warrior) and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nat is also currently the editor of the blogs Opishposh.com and Curiosityaroused.com.