By Jaime C. Feal
A historic event unfolds Saturday night as Ronda Rousey headlines UFC 157 and women’s MMA takes center stage. For the first time ever, the UFC will introduce a Women’s division, and the highly polarizing figure Rousey is the perfect person to do it. The young, charismatic champion is a former Olympic bronze medalist in judo, and has tore through all the competition she has faced. Rousey has won every single one of her fights in the first round via armbar, and Liz Carmouche will try to avoid a similar fate tomorrow night. In the co-main event is an outstanding matchup between top contenders Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. The winner of that fight could very well get the next title shot.
Bantamweight Division (135 lbs.):
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (26-6, 2-2 UFC) vs. Ivan Menjivar (25-9, 4-2 UFC)
The popular Faber fights in his homestate of California as he takes on Ivan Menjivar in what should be a fast-paced bout. Faber, who has performed very poorly in title fights, has been historically dominant in non-title fights. Faber seems to thrive when he faces solid, but not elite competition. That appears to be the case with Mejivar, a fighter who is very tough but doesn’t pose too many threats to Faber.
Faber, the Team Alpha Male representative and leader, is an excellent wrestler with great top control. He will be constantly shooting in for the takedown and testing Mendjivar’s grappling defense. Menjivar possesses solid offensive jiu jitsu, and is a brown belt, but whether he will be able to pull off submissions from his back is a separate question altogether. Menjivar’s best chance in this fight is to try to keep it standing, an area where Faber is notoriously vulnerable. Faber’s cardio and relentlessness will be too much for Menjivar, however, as “The California Kid” grinds down his opponent for the win.
Prediction: Urijah “The California Kid” Faber wins by unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (18-3, 10-3 UFC) vs. Dan Henderson (29-8, 6-2 UFC)
A huge clash of styles in this matchup, as the co-main event of the evening pits Karate master Lyoto Machida vs. wrestler/power puncher Dan Henderson. As is usually the case with such a clash of styles, the fight will be determined by who can impose their will. Machida would like to keep the distance, deftly moving in and out of range to pick Henderson apart. “The Dragon” is an expert at doing this, as he has been competing in Karate his entire life. Machida also has solid judo and jiu jitsu.
Henderson’s key to success in this fight is to use his superior wrestling, if he can get ahold of Machida that is. Machida is so elusive that Henderson could easily get frustrated and just look to load up on his “H-Bomb” right hand/ This is the worst possible thing that could happen for the former Greco-Roman Olympic gold medalist, as Machida has some of the best evasive skills in the division. Finding his chin on the feet will be a very difficult task, but Henderson is too cocky and set in his ways to take the fight to the ground. A stand-up fight likely ensues, and Machida wins via superior skill, timing, and technique in the striking department.
Prediction: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida wins by unanimous decision
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship (135 lbs.):
Ronda Rousey (6-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Liz Carmouche (8-2, 0-0 UFC)
The first ever women’s MMA match in the UFC is also a title fight, as transcendent star Ronda Rousey defends her Bantamweight belt for the first time. UFC president Dana White has said this is the “Ronda Rousey” show, and the trash-talking, ass-kicking vixen is worthy of such praise. Rousey possesses a great skillset and is undefeated in her career. She uses her superior judo background to dominate all her opponents, effortlessly tossing them to the ground before finishing via armbar.
Can Carmouche stop the judo machine that is Rousey? Very unlikely. Women’s MMA is still in its infancy, much like MMA was when Royce Gracie dominated all his opponents in the early UFCs simply by having mastered one skill. Rousey has such superior judo and grappling than all her competitors that no one can stop her yet. As women’s MMA becomes more evolved and well-rounded like we see with the men’s game, Rousey will begin to face much sterner tests. However, in this first ever UFC women’s fight, it really is all about Ronda Rousey, as she will quickly clinch up with Carmouche, violently toss her to the ground, and elicit the tap out.
Prediction: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey wins by submission (armbar), Round 1.