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Ronda Rousey overwhelmed by response and experience at UFC 157

Inaugural UFC women’s fight full of back-and-forth action

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Associated Press

Liz Carmouche, left, taps out as Ronda Rousey pulls an armbar on her during their UFC 157 women’s bantamweight championship mixed martial arts match in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Rousey won the first womens bout in UFC history, forcing Carmouche to tap out in the first round. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

UFC 157

Ronda Rousey celebrates defeating Liz Carmouche after their UFC 157 women's bantamweight championship mixed martial arts match in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Rousey won the first womens bout in UFC history, forcing Carmouche to tap out in the first round. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Launch slideshow »

The camera crew wanted Ronda Rousey to keep walking, to triumphantly coast out of the arena with a belt around her waist and a smile adorning her face like every other UFC champion before her.

A group of female fans congregated by the railing where Rousey exited the octagon after beating Liz Carmouche with a first-round submission by arm bar had other plans. They screamed and waved their cameras in hopes to get the UFC women’s bantamweight champion’s attention.

Rousey stopped, obliging at their request and greeting her rabid supporters. Despite the protest of those trying to craft the end of the broadcast, this was the perfect conclusion to the night.

UFC 157 had nothing to do with following tradition. The event was all about breaking new ground.

“I felt like we really did live up to the whole hype of it,” Rousey said. “The place was going nuts. I’m glad it was a full house. I was just honored to be a part of it. It was a special night.”

UFC President Dana White announced that a sold-out crowd of 15,525 people filled the Honda Center to catch the first-ever women’s fight in the UFC.

Any final concerns about females headlining a card for the world’s largest fighting organization were alleviated Saturday night in more ways than one.

“I think this fight got the respect it deserved and then some,” White said. “I was blown away.”

“These two girls went out tonight and showed everybody what it’s all about, what they do and what they have.”

If one of the best bouts of the last several years — a featherweight slugfest won by Dennis Bermudez over Matt Grice — didn’t grace the undercard, Rousey vs. Carmouche would have run away with Fight of the Night honors. The fight played out in what seemed like a dream scenario for the UFC.

It timed out to the longest of Rousey’s career, but ended the same way as her six other bouts. Rousey finally wrested Carmouche’s arm away after several failed attempts to lock in the arm bar with 11 seconds left in the first round.

“Just imagine bending back your finger to a point where it’s not supposed to go,” Carmouche described Rousey’s arm bar. “I didn’t know how much time I had left or otherwise, I would have let her break it just to go to the second round.”

Before giving up her arm, however, Carmouche handed Rousey severe adversity within the first minute.

Joan Jett's 'Bad Reputation'

Rousey, after walking to the cage to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” with a glare so malicious it could have scared an inmate on death row, encountered “the most vulnerable position” of her career.

Carmouche took her back, applying both a rear-naked choke and a face crank in succession trying to submit the champion.

“Neck cranks are always hard to pull off,” Carmouche said. “If you have a lot of heart, you can fight through them like she did. She was very successful. Then I bared down, where I now have teeth marks actually, at her mouth thinking I could get her to tap by knocking some teeth out. It just didn’t work.”

That’s right; Carmouche cranked Rousey’s face so hard that her mouthpiece slipped out. Rousey inhaled for more than a second to get her breath back, eating an upkick to the chin in the process, after she shook Carmouche off.

Instead of detailing the pain, Rousey referred to the whole exchange as “a tricky situation.”

“Anyone who’s ever rolled before knows when somebody gets your back and puts that on your jaw, on your teeth, on your face, it’s no fun,” White said. “I don’t think Ronda is going to be eating a lot of food at her after-fight party tonight.”

White can rest easy, because partying wasn’t even on his star’s mind. After her first UFC win, Rousey only wished for some space to decompress.

“For the next week, I’m probably going to fall entirely off the grid as much as I can,” Rousey said. “If I see anyone, I’m not going to talk about me at all. There’s no talking about me all week in my house.”

That will count as a major change of pace. Rousey dealt with the most wide-ranging media tour in the history of the UFC over the last month, according to White.

Even during fight week, Rousey and Carmouche woke up at 5 a.m. and fulfilled media obligations until the evening.

Rousey said performing in front of Saturday’s audience made everything worthwhile. The champion was exhausted, but thankful.

“I think tomorrow when I can finally sit down and be in a room by myself and digest, I’ll run around and do a little dance,” Rousey said. “But right now, I’m too tired to dance.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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