Today Marks the 9th Anniversary of the First WMMA Fight In the UFC

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In 2022, fight fans couldn’t imagine the UFC without champions like Valentina Shevchenko or Amanda Nunes. But on this day, Feb.23, only nine years ago, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche stepped into the Octagon at the sold-out UFC 157. 

That day, the two women made history as not only the first-ever women’s mixed martial arts fight in the UFC but the first-ever female main event in the promotion. MMASucka looks back upon that historic day.

“Women will never fight in the UFC.”

UFC president Dana White famously uttered these words to TMZ while being bombarded by the press. This, despite Cris Cyborg and Gina Carano becoming the first-ever women to headline an MMA card not too many years prior.

But Rousey was relentless in her pursuit to touch the canvas of the Octagon. After discovering her love of mixed martial arts, “Rowdy” quickly became famous for her back-to-back first-round armbar finishes—a streak she carried onto her career at the UFC’s competitor Strikeforce. Fortunately, this all went in her favor, as White finally started to take notice of the undefeated fighter. 

Enter Liz Carmouche, reportedly the only female fighter brave enough to sign the dotted line against Rousey. The former U.S. Marine became a massive part of WMMA history, coming in on a two-fight win streak from Invicta FC. Although “Girl-Rilla” didn’t have her opponent’s clean record, she stepped up to the plate with UFC gold on the line. And Carmouche wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

Rousey vs Carmouche, Feb. 23, 2013

During the lead-up to UFC 157, White expended the same amount of resources to promote this fight as he would prior cards. The spotlight shone brightly on Rousey and Carmouche — before, during, and after the bout. Then, at the end of the night of Feb. 23, 2013, in the jam-packed Honda Center, the two women brawled.

Not too long after referee “Big” John McCarthy called the start to the bout, “Rowdy” was in trouble. Carmouche managed to bring things to the canvas and grabbed the back of the bantamweight champion, who had carried her crown over from Strikeforce. An attempt at a neck crank followed a rear-naked choke, but the determined Rousey managed to escape — the two continuing what could be described as an extremely fast-paced, technical dance.

With just 11 seconds left in the first round, Rousey managed to trap “Girl-Rilla” in an armbar to maintain her title as the UFC’s first-ever female champion. Although, ultimately, both women were winners that night as they paved the way for White to announce the signing of 10 more female fighters. The rest was history.

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Jasmin is a writer-photographer who has worked in video games, music, travel, and more recently, MMA. Her fight background is in TKD, Muay Thai and Boxing though she's always wanted to roll with the BJJ crew. Follow her on Twitter @blaise_MMA

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