Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche have final words

ANAHEIM — With the UFC 157: Rousey-Carmouche pre-fight press conference wrapping up and fighters posing for their customary face-to-face photos, Ronda Rousey turned to face the press and stand shoulder to shoulder with opponent Liz Carmouche when Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White handed Rousey the UFC women’s bantamweight championship.

Rousey wanted nothing to do with the title that had been bestowed upon her in December of last year.

PHOTOS: UFC 157 press conference with Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche

At the urging of White, she finally and begrudgingly relented, throwing it over her shoulder. As soon as the photos were snapped, the championship that Rousey and Carmouche will fight for Saturday night live on pay-per-view from the Honda Center in Anaheim was nowhere near Rousey once again.

“All the people that think that I don’t deserve this belt, that I didn’t earn it, I partially agree with them,” Rousey said just minutes earlier in Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. “I won’t consider myself a real UFC champion until I win the belt inside the octagon. That’s why you’re not gonna see me touching or carrying that belt until after I win this fight.”

That fight will be the first in the history of the UFC between women, as the undefeated Rousey (6-0), a full-fledged superstar who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club, defends the title against Carmouche (8-2) in a bout that has gained media the likes of which the company has never seen before.

“This is without a doubt the most media attention we’ve ever had leading up to a fight, without a doubt,” White said. “When I talk about media attention, I’m talking about big, big-time media.”

On Thursday, with all the hard work in the rear view, Rousey and Carmouche were joined by co-main event light-heavyweights Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, welterweights Josh Koscheck and Robbie Lawler and White for some last words before a night of fights littered with big names from the start and concluding with a bout of historic proportions featuring a combatant in Rousey that may very well be the biggest name in the industry — male or female.

“No fighter that has ever fought in the UFC has had more attention than she has, it’s a fact,” White said. “Honestly, going into this thing, I didn’t know that that would happen. I didn’t think HBO and Time Magazine and all these other outlets that never cover us would. I didn’t see that happening.”

While the publicity for the fight has been positive by most accounts, there have been doubts as to how some view women’s MMA in general, if it was worthy of headlining a card and, as Rousey touched on, whether she deserved to be handed a UFC championship before ever setting foot in the octagon.

All three aspects were touched upon Thursday, with White, who once infamously stated that women would never fight in the UFC, being the first to admit he’s been won over.

“There’s a lot of people that felt very negative about women fighting in the sport and then I didn’t realize how many people would be so negative about two women headlining a card, but after I did my homework and I saw some of these fights and I got into it and I met the girls, it is the right thing to do,” White said. “I’m proud to be standing here today announcing that this fight is gonna happen in two days.”

Each of the fighters at the press conference chimed in with their support for the new group of female fighters entering the roster.

“I think it’s a good thing for our sport,” Koscheck said. “It bring a lot of new attention to the sport and a lot of new media.”

Added Henderson: “I think it’s great. ...I’m a big fan and I’m excited that I get to watch the last fight after I’m done.”

Indeed, many are expected to be watching, as White said the Honda Center is nearing a sellout as the prospect of women fighting in the UFC, much less headlining a pay-per-view card, is no longer fantasy, but reality.

“It’s an honor, this is a dream come true, this is something that when I first got into MMA that I imagined being a part of history,” Carmouche said. “And for that dream to be only days away, I can’t even put into words.”

For all the firsts that will take place Saturday when Rousey, the first women’s fighter to sign a contract with the UFC, takes on Carmouche, the first openly gay fighter in the organization, lock up in the first women’s bout, Rousey’s title reign is not. There was a precedent set when the UFC absorbed another sibling company, World Extreme Cagefighting, and bantamweight Dominick Cruz and featherweight Jose Aldo continued their championship reigns as they were champions in divisions that did not previously exist in the UFC, just as Rousey, formerly the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champ, has carried over her reign. But that makes no matter to Rousey, much like all the pomp and circumstance of the event, everything will have to wait until after her hand is raised Saturday night.

“I’m not really gonna sit back and enjoy it all until the fight’s already done,” Rousey said, “and I’ve won.”

For more comprehensive coverage of Rousey-Carmouche through their main event, visit, where you can view the last installments of UFC Primetime: Rousey-Carmouche.

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