Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche will make history on February 23, when they square off against each other at UFC 157 for the title of women’s bantamweight champion. Never before has the Ultimate Fighting Championship set up a match between two women, and these contenders are particularly formidable.
Rousey, the favorite to win, is a world champion in judo and a force to be reckoned with in mixed martial arts. With her signature fighting move, the armbar, she’s forced all six of her pro MMA opponents to throw in their proverbial towels. Rousey, whose mother was also a judo champion, competed in the sport on the Olympic level, and beat her post-games depression by transitioning into MMA.
In addition to being an excellent fighter, Rousey is also known for her good looks and her sailor’s tongue. Her speech is littered with f-bombs and vulgarities, and she’s clearly not afraid to be fierce. And though she eye-rollingly dismisses the popular fixation with her looks, she acknowledges that as a pro athlete, she's something of a brand unto herself.
Though Carmouche, the first openly gay fighter in the UFC, has been cast as the underdog in the upcoming match, she’s no wilting flower, either. Both women are anticipating a heated, no holds barred fight, and the match is sure to bump UFC’s popularity up another notch.
The match between Rousey and Carmouche is unprecedented, and many are shocked that commissioner Dana White has reversed his stance on including women in the UFC. His decision to let Rousey and Carmouche duke it out has been polarizing among fans of MMA. There are some who find the idea of two women fighting to be disturbing, whereas watching two men fight is just a rousing good time.
Though the idea that women fighting is somehow inherently different than men fighting is frustrating, it’s hardly surprising. In a society where women have only just been officially permitted to engage in combat while serving in the military, it makes sense that some people have trouble wrapping their heads around women in MMA. But with this upcoming UFC match, as well as women’s boxing making its way to the Olympics, detractors had better get used to the idea of women fighting right alongside their male counterparts. What will be interesting to see is whether Rousey and other female fighters will ever be pitted against male opponents, though if that ever comes to be, it is still probably a long way off.
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