Morning Report: Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche usher in new era of women's MMA

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

By now the word "historic" has been bandied about so much over the past few days, I wouldn't fault you if you were numb to it. So I'll keep this brief.

"Everyone was saying Henderson-Machida should have been the main event," an exhausted UFC President Dana White said after a wild four minutes and 49 seconds saved his dying show. "Nothing against those two, that would have stunk the place out. Imagine if that was the last fight of the night? People would have left here pissed."

Therein lies the real victory, and perhaps the reason that a wide grin was locked onto Liz Carmouche's face throughout Saturday's post-fight press conference. Ronda Rousey and Carmouche, they fought -- in every sense of the word -- and at no point did it feel out of place. In fact, aside from the inherent novelty that comes with being the first, it almost felt natural, which is perhaps most impressive.

Who knows where we go from here? Maybe this experiment carries the sport to a new boom in popularity, maybe it fizzles out. Either way, 10 years down the line it'll be remembered -- the night in Anaheim when two gutsy women proved they belonged among their male counterparts on MMA's biggest stage.

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Rousey collects another arm. UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey survived an early scare to submit Liz Carmouche with -- what else? -- a first-round armbar in front of a sellout crowd at Anaheim's Honda Center in the electric main event of UFC 157. (Video.) For more, check out reaction from the pros.

White: Aldo refusing to fight Pettis. UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who initially welcomed a bout against Anthony Pettis, has since had a change of heart, according to UFC President Dana White. "[Aldo] is absolutely refusing to fight Pettis. Doesn't think he deserves the shot," White said, adding later, "That's fight's on. He's going to fight Pettis or he's not going to like how this is going to turn out."

Machida promised title shot in victory. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida took a split decision over Dan Henderson on the judges' scorecards to reclaim the title of No. 1 contender in the tepid co-main event of UFC 157.

Fitch, WSOF in talks. World Series of Fighting and former UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch have informally agreed to terms and now await confirmation from Fitch's camp, according to WSOF President Ray Sefo. Fitch could potentially make his debut sometime in June or July.

Faber submits Menjivar. Former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber took advantage of Ivan Menjivar's willingness to "play the ground game," ultimately choking out the veteran with a standing rear naked in the closing moments of round one.

White, Diaz rift. Following a rocky week of public relations, UFC President Dana White told reporters that he and Nick Diaz's camp have settled their differences in regards to Diaz's missed interviews, which White claims cost the company $50,000. Nonetheless, White admitted the being "close" to pulling Diaz from the fight. "It's not funny," he said. "We're very cool and very lenient in a lot of ways. I mean, look at this company, you know? We're lenient on a lot of things, we let a lot of things slide. But that's just absolute bulls--t."

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MEDIA STEW

It was easy to miss, but the UFC squeezed out one last Dana White video blog in the hours before UFC 157. If you missed it the first time around, feel free to check it out below.

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"There's a reason why people have low testosterone. My testosterone is fine and I've never abused steroids. That's all I've got to say on the matter." - Michael Bisping, keeping it real.

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The only word to describe last week's Bellator 90 main card: Violent. Six fights. Seven rounds. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and catch it below. (Click to watch.)

Bellator_90_medium

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Welcome back, Prebek. It's been too long.

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Alan Belcher has a bet for Michael Bisping, and you better believe it involves awful tattoos.

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If you follow any sports within the ESPN sphere, you probably recognize this as the Around the Horn set. And as usual, Bill Plaschke is very, very wrong.

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Did you know Paul Daley fought over the weekend? While the fight itself wasn't anything to write home about, the finish is worth checking out. (For the lazy, jump to 11:05.)

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7 WINS, 7 ARMS

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PLUS THIS

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PLAYING HARD TO GET

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DISAPPOINTMENT

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FITCH TO WSOF?

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CESAR

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HAPPY B-DAY, BAS!

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YEP

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced over the weekend (Friday, February 22, 2013 - Sunday, February 24, 2013):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from MikeWellman88, who looks back at the weekend with: UFC 157: The Aftermen (and Women)

The Ultimate Warriors

With the bombshell news coming out this past week about the 16 fighters cut by the UFC, and the looming specter of the '100' more that they need to let go, the undercard guys fought as if their career was on the line, which was indeed the case for at least some of them. No two men fought harder than the Fight-of-the-Night winners, Dennis Bermudez, and Matt Grice, though. The first two rounds flew under the radar, but when the horn sounded to start the final frame, Bermudez brought the thunder, and Grice weathered the storm. I'm going to be honest and say my voice while watching a fight hasn't reached such decibel levels since UFC 139. Anytime you get compared to Shogun vs Hendo, losing your job is the last thing you have to worry about.

Where do they go from here? I'd venture to say that Grice finds himself in another rock/hard place scenario in his next outing, and Bermudez takes on a step up in competition. After watching this fight I wouldn't mind seeing a TUF finale rematch with Bermudez facing off against Diego Brandao.

Putting the Welterweight Top 10 on Notice

Robbie Lawler returned to the UFC at 157, fighting in the octagon for the first time since UFC 50. He drew a tough opponent for his return in Josh Koscheck, a 22-fight UFC veteran. In fact, the only men with more fights in the octagon than Koscheck are all in the UFC Hall of Fame. This was Lawler's first fight at 170 pounds [since 2004], and he looked like a natural welterweight. These guys are both seasoned veterans, and Lawler stopped Koscheck in the first round.

What's next? For 'Kos', who knows? The UFC just cut the 9th ranked welterweight, and Koscheck was 8th. I think he stays around, and gets another chance to crack the top 10, which he will suredly be outside of once the rankings come out.

After examining the current 170 lbs roster in the UFC, there arent many bad fights for Lawler. 170 is currently one of the most talent rich divisions in the UFC. Tyron Woodley? Siyar Bahadurzada is fighting at FUEL TV 8 in Japan against Dong Hyun Kim. The winner of that fight would be a great test for Lawler, as would a fight with the next man on this list, Court Mcgee.

Welterweight's New Volume Puncher

Another fighter on the main card of UFC 157 that got a W after dropping to 170 lbs is Court McGee. The TUF 11 winner had back-to-back losses at middleweight and decided a switch to welterweight was in order. Court out-struck and out-threw Neer in every round, and was the only one of the two to attempt takedowns, landing two of five according toFightmetric. Another Fightmetric stat in this fight was Court McGee's 166 significant strikes landed. That puts him 12 strikes behind Nick Diaz's 178 landed against BJ Penn at UFC 137, which holds the record. McGee poured it on in the first round, landing 78 significant strikes and throwing 145 of them.

What's next for Court McGee? The aforementioned Robbie Lawler fight would be a great litmus test for both guys to see who is the real deal at 170 pounds, but the division is bursting at the seems these days with talent, so whomever Court draws next will surely be a stiff test.

More after the jump...

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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