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Ronda Rousey to face Liz Carmouche in UFC 157 main event

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC women's division has its debut date. It will come on Feb. 23, 2013, when Ronda Rousey fights Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157. The history-making show will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., ending years of long-held belief that the organization would never promote women's fights in the octagon.

UFC president Dana White, who had for years been reluctant to add women to the roster due to depth issues, made the announcement at Thursday's UFC on FOX 5 press conference in Seattle. Just prior to that, he presented Rousey with a shiny, new UFC championship belt as she traded in her Strikeforce bantamweight belt.

While it wasn't the hoped-for matchup with Cris Cyborg, White promised that matchup with Rousey would come next as long as she emerged from UFC 157 victorious.

"That was obviously the fight we wanted to make at 135 pounds," White said. "We worked hard to make that fight. I believe that this fight will happen and I truly believe the next fight will be the Cyborg one."

The 25-year-old Rousey captured the belt with a March armbar win over Miesha Tate, and then defended it with another armbar win in August, that time against Sarah Kaufman.

Carmouche (7-2) will come in riding a two-fight win streak. As White told it, there were few other options.

"Let me put it to you this way," he said. "You ask me these questions and I tell you truth. A lot of people don't like the truth when I say it but that’s who wanted to fight her. People aren’t kicking the doors down at Zuffa to fight her."

Earlier on Thursday, Cyborg said she would be willing to try to drop weight and reach 135 to fight Rousey, but said she would need more time to get there than the February date allowed.

Rousey fired a warning shot at Cyborg and all comers.

"It's going to happen eventually," she said. "I can’t make these girls fight me when I want them to fight me. I got a lot of respect for Liz. She's the only one that really stepped up and said she really wanted this fight right now. That speaks a lot towards her. When the other girls come around and actually want to come to the big show, they know where I’m at."

As MMA Fighting has previously reported, a light-heavyweight contenders fight between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida is also slated for the card as a co-main event, while a Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar scrap has already been officially announced as a supporting act.