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Ronda Rousey: Women saved the day for UFC 184

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Esther Lin

LOS ANGELES -- The way Ronda Rousey sees it, had the UFC not chosen to branch out into the women's side of mixed martial arts a couple years ago, UFC 184 might have gone the way of UFC 151 and UFC 176.

"Women really came to save the day for the UFC this time," Rousey said at Thursday's media day at Club Nokia.

Saturday night's event at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles was originally scheduled to lead with the UFC middleweight title bout between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. That fight was postponed when Weidman had to pull out with an injury.

Additionally, a key middleweight main-card bout between contenders Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Yoel Romero was scrapped when Souza became ill.

Had it not been for the women's fights on the card, UFC 184 would have been left mighty thin, and possibly could have joined the aforementioned events as the only UFC cards canceled under Zuffa watch. The fact the event is at Staples Center would have made things doubly disastrous, as UFC 176 last summer was also slated for the building.

"They lost the Jacare fight, and they lost the Weidman and Vitor fight," Rousey said. "And if it wasn't for the women, they would have had a UFC [151] situation where they might have had to close the whole thing."

Instead, the focus of the entire event has been remade. UFC 184 has turned into the first major event in UFC history to be both headlined and co-headlined by women's fights. Rousey defends her belt against fellow unbeaten Cat Zingano in the main event. In the co-main, former boxing champion Holly Holm makes her highly anticipated UFC debut against Raquel Pennington.

"I'm so happy that the investment that they made in the female fighters is paying off so well," Rousey exclaimed. "And that we can not just salvage the card, but make an entirely new event, which has become an attraction for its own reasons and the fans are really proud of the sport."

When Rousey-Zingano was originally announced as the co-main to Weidman-Belfort, Rousey said she was okay with her bout's position, as it meant carrying less of the media load. Since she's been boosted to the main event, Rousey now says that she's fine with how things panned out.

"The thing is, after UFC 157, when I made my debut with Liz Carmouche, it was such a heavy burden with the media that we had five crews a day in the gym. It was like, we had to sell that card, it had to work, or we were gone forever. Everything in comparison since then has been like, oh, this wasn't so bad. So I think it's kind of great that we hit the ground running, because everything else seems like less work."