It was a history making night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship as they presented their first ever women’s bout, with Ronda Rousey facing Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with the prelims and Sam Stout taking on Caros Fodor in the lightweight division.
This proved to be a very enjoyable encounter. We literally had no feeling out process, mainly because these two wanted to engage straight off the bat.
Stout looked good in the first two rounds. His striking looked top notch, especially his hard lefts to the body. His best moment though came towards the end of the first when he went for an armbar. But as the old saying goes Fodor was saved by the bell.
Fodor looked okay with his clinching and takedowns early on, but by the time he upped his game in the third round he’d left himself too much to do.
As for the judges they had differing opinions as they gave Stout the split decision.
It was down to featherweight for the next fight as Dennis Bermudez faced Matt Grice.
Now this was a fight packed with three rounds of tremendous back and forth action.
It looked like we were going to get an early finish when the fight went down and Bermudez went to work with the ground and pound, especially when he tied up one of Grice’s arms in the process.
Grice managed to survive though, and he soon came back into the fight when he sent Bermudez crashing down to the mat. A stoppage looked on the cards then, but Bermudez managed to survive.
Grice continued with his excellent striking in the second, and although Bermudez survived he looked wound up, as if he was unable to put his best foot forward.
All of that changed when the third round started. It was as if someone had lighted a fire under Bermudez. Suddenly his striking looked top notch, first on the ground and then on his feet.
At one point it looked like the referee was going to call the fight when Grice staggered around on rubbery legs. But he let the fight go on, and Grice gradually recovered enough to end the fight.
Once again the judges were divided in their opinions as Bermudez took the split decision.
It was back to lightweight for the next fight between Michael Chiesa and Anton Kuivanen.
The only prelim that didn’t go the distance had quite a lengthy feeling out period at the beginning, but as the first round went on Kuivanen’s striking began to find it’s target.
It looked like it was going to be more of the same in the second, but after some clinch work against the fence Chiesa took his man’s back from a standing position before dragging him to the ground.
Kuivanen then showed some sound defensive skills as he tried to fight Chiesa’s rear naked choke attempt. Eventually Chiesa managed to synch in his hold of choice for the submission win.
The final preliminary fight saw Brendan Schaub taking on Lavar Johnson in the heavyweight division.
This one was all about Schaub’s ground game and his attempts to avoid Johnson’s punching power.
For three rounds Schaub was able to take Johnson down at will. His best success came in the first when he went for a variety of chokes, eventually deciding on the anaconda variety. The only problem was that while he applied the hold Johnson kept clobbering him with his free hand, forcing Schaub to release the hold.
Schaub went on to take his man down time and time again, but for the majority of these takedowns he failed to capitalize on his position, forcing the referee’s hand as he stood the fighters up.
Even though he was on his back for the majority of the fight Johnson still caused his fair share of damage, his blows from the bottom busting Schaub open, making it look like he was the dominant fighter.
With no finish the judges were called upon again. This time around there was no difference of opinion as Schaub took the unanimous decision.
The main show began in the welterweight division as Josh Koscheck faced Robbie Lawler.
This was a fine example of how someone can snatch a victory from out of nowhere.
Koscheck took the fight to the ground early on, and although Lawler showed some sound defensive skills it looked as if Koscheck would remain in charge of the action.
As the round neared it’s final minute Lawler took the front headlock position. From there he connected with a big left that stunned his man, and as he followed this up with a few more choice shots the referee stepped in to give Lawler the TKO win, although it was a decision that Koscheck wasn’t too happy about.
The welterweight action continued with Court McGee taking on Josh Neer.
This one was all about the striking, with a nice bit of grappling thrown in for good measure.
McGee put on a great performance in the first round. His striking was top notch throughout, and when he connected with a body kick Neer looked in all kinds of trouble. He was also lucky to survive the first round, mainly because McGee never really followed up on the body damage.
Neer looked like a different fighter in the second. This time it was his turn to put on a top notch striking performance, beginning with a series of stiff jabs that snapped McGee’s head back.
McGee retook control in the third with a series of takedowns. Neer tried his best but McGee’s ground and pound game was too much for him at times.
Once again the judges were called upon for their opinions as all three gave everything to McGee.
Then it was down to bantamweight for the second encounter between Urijah Faber and Ivan Menjivar.
A lot of action in so little time in this one. Menjivar took the fight to the ground with a great judo throw early on, only for Faber to reverse the positions just a few seconds later.
Faber went to work with the ground and pound, and although Menjivar looked for a couple of submissions Faber maintained control.
With the first round nearing it’s final minute Menjivar managed to get back to his feet, only for Faber to take his back while he was still standing. He quickly synched in a rear naked choke as they backed into the fence, with Menjivar tapping out to give Faber the submission win.
Filler material followed in the form of the welterweight encounter between Kenny Robertson and Brock Jardine.
This certainly was an interesting one. Jardine pulled guard early on and went for a guillotine, but after Robertson survived this attempt he quickly took control.
Robertson took his man’s back within seconds as he looked for a rear naked choke. Jardine did a good job defending against this, but when he tried to shake Robertson off Robertson reached back and grabbed Jardine’s left leg. Jardine had no choice but to tap out, giving Robertson the submission win.
The co-main event featured light heavyweight action as Lyoto Machida faced Dan Henderson.
I have to admit I’m not sure what category to put this fight in. It had it’s moments but it didn’t exactly set my pulse racing.
The feeling out period seemed to last for the majority of the first round, with Machida getting in the better shots and scoring with the takedown late on.
As the action progressed into the second round Machida had more success in the striking department, with Henderson failing more often than not when he came forward.
There was some brief ground action early in the third as Henderson tried to go to work with the ground and pound, but the rest of the round saw Machida continue to dominate the striking game.
In the end the judges failed to agree again as Machida took the split decision.
The main event saw Liz Carmouche challenging Ronda Rousey for the Women’s Bantamweight title.
Now this was a fight. Rousey came forward as soon as the fight began, and it wasn’t long before the action went to the ground.
A few moments later Rousey suffered the biggest scare of her short career when Carmouche took her back from a standing position and looked for a rear naked choke. It looked like an upset was on the cards for a while until Rousey managed to shake her off.
It wasn’t long before Rousey was back in top position and controlling Carmouche’s head again. The challenger, for her part, was always looking for the escape.
Then the inevitable happened as Rousey moved into position so she could apply the armbar. Carmouche defended for as long as she could until Rousey finally pulled back on the limb. Carmouche quickly tapped to give Rousey the history making submission win.
The show rounded out with a second showing of the Dennis Bermudez/Matt Grice fight.
In conclusion - so what can I say about this event? I could bring out all of the usual superlatives about history making events, but saying that this was a great show would probably be the best way to describe things.
The prelims set the stage perfectly for what was to come, thanks in part to Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice, and when Robbie Lawler secured his comeback win against Josh Koscheck it was a sign of things to come, especially as far as the main event was concerned.
That fight definitely lived up to all the hype. Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche put on a fight that more than lived up to expectations, and the fact that women’s MMA has now hit the main stage is a tremendous sign for the future.
As for my fight of the night no-prize I’m going to differ from the official judgement here. While those in the know when for the aforementioned Bermudez/Grice encounter I’m plumping for the Rousey/Carmouche fight for the reasons I’ve just mentioned.
So with all of that out of the way there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s to give UFC 157 the big thumbs up.