After weeks of buildup, after countless interviews and global publicity, Rousey had a world of pressure on her. The UFC women's division, after all, was conceived largely in part due to her, and its continued existence is fairly dependent on her success. That -- along with 12-to-1 favorite status -- was the weight on her shoulders.
And then there was Liz Carmouche.
The retired Marine was quite literally a weight on Rousey's shoulders, early in the first round, when she took Rousey's back and attempted to sink in a choke. Rousey tried to resist, so Carmouche turned it into a neck crank, and it was, shall we says, cranked.
Rousey, showing the heart of a champion, refused to tap. Her face twisted up and in pain, she managed to untangle Carmouche's bodylock before shaking free of Carmouche as a backpack. And then, and only then, she could go to work.
Finally, she spun to a headlock and hurt Carmouche with punches before setting up an armbar from the top. Time after time, we've seen the armbar as a quick finish for her, but Carmouche (8-3) held on to her threatened arm, refusing to let it go. Rousey worked a little at a time to get it free, throwing an occasional hammerfist from the top, then yanking, then repeating the process over and over. Finally, as the round ticked down to its final seconds, she pulled it free, and torqued the elbow, getting the tap.
After four minutes and 49 seconds of high-pitched drama, it was over.
"I thought i had it," Carmouche said. "I made a mistake and it turned around."
"That's one thing I've had to learn in MMA, to be patient and take my time," said Rousey (7-0). "I kept a clear head and was trying to do it perfectly on the first try."
Fighting in the first women's fight in UFC history, both women had pressure on them, and they acquitted themselves perfectly. Carmouche provided Rousey's sternest challenge and Rousey survived it, showing a champion's grit. As firsts go, it was worth the wait.