MMA fighter Ronda Rousey headlines Saturday's UFC 157 in a bout against Liz Carmouche in Anaheim, and the fight "will make history" as the first women's match for the promotion, according to a sports section cover story by David Leon Moore of USA TODAY. UFC President Dana White after seeing Rousey “become a star” for Strikeforce was “convinced it was time for him to promote a women’s fight for the first time.” White said, “There’s a certain type of person and fighter that makes people come and watch, and she’s got it. First, she’s got to be able to kick some ass. With Ronda, she can do that and she is also beautiful and she speaks well. She’s a home run.” Moore notes now that Rousey has “signed on with UFC, she is expected to make perhaps $150,000 or more per fight if she wins” (USA TODAY, 2/21). SI.com’s Jeff Wagenheim reported when White was “asked again and again to explain his flip-flop” after previously saying he would "never" have women fighters in the UFC, his answer is “always the same: ‘Ronda Rousey.’” Wagenheim wrote, “Even if you don't think women should be fighting in a cage, or even if you're neither in favor of it nor opposed but simply don't care to watch, there's no denying the historic implication here.” The fight is “not as momentous as women's suffrage, not even as far-reaching as Title IX, but when these athletes step through the cage door on Saturday night they'll be staking their gender's place on the sport's grandest stage” (SI.com, 2/19). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote the Rousey-Carmouche fight "isn't some soft opening or novelty act." White "promises it's part of a long-term investment in women's MMA." It is the UFC "trying to use the star power of Rousey to build entire weight classes, an entire sport nearly from scratch" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/19).
DRAWING A CROWD: In L.A., Brian Martin writes Rousey was “easily the star of the open workout at the UFC gym” in Torrance, Calif. While Rousey has been “in high demand with the media leading up to this historic fight, even she was taken aback by the attendance.” Rousey said, “I didn’t think it would be this big. It’s a little bit surprising. I just feel bad I can’t get to everybody” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/21). Rousey said headlining Saturday's card is "amazing, and the amount of support that I’ve gotten from a lot of the guys has been really touching as well." She said, "It really gives a lot of legitimacy to a lot of the women.” Rousey: “I always want to put on a good show every time I fight. I wouldn’t have got to this point if I didn’t put on a good show every single time” ("The Jim Rome Show," CBS Sports Radio, 2/20).
IF LOOKS COULD KILL: Tuesday night’s edition of HBO’s “Real Sports” profiled Rousey. HBO’s Jon Frankel said working on her cage moves “isn’t the only thing that’s primed Rousey for the big-time.” Rousey posing on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue” naked “doesn’t hurt” and “tends to get people’s attention.” Rousey: “If you want exposure you have to expose yourself to some extent.” Rousey said posing naked in “The Body Issue” was a “good way to promote myself and women’s MMA. It wasn’t like it was Playboy.” Frankel asked, “What if Playboy did call?” Rousey replied, “Then I’d say no. No one should be able to see my cash and prizes for five dollars, I don’t care how much money they gave me.” Rousey: “I probably get more attention fighting because of how I look, but if I didn’t know how to fight and I just looked the way I did, no one would know who I am” (“Real Sports,” HBO, 2/19).