Ronda Rousey named UFC women's champion, will fight at UFC 157

UFC president Dana White introduced the company's first women's champion, Ronda Rousey, and announced her first fight in the octagon during a press conference for UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle. (Dec. 6, 2012)

SEATTLE - Dana White has come around on having women fighting in the UFC.

Ronda Rousey is the reason.

Rousey, who won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympics and is a rising mixed-martial arts star, will face Liz Carmouche in the first women's fight in UFC history in the main event at UFC 157 on Feb. 23 in Anaheim, Calif.

White, the UFC president, announced the fight Thursday at the conclusion of the preview for UFC's fight card on Saturday night in Seattle, headlined by Benson Henderson defending his lightweight championship against Nate Diaz.

"I've seen a lot of tough girls, but I haven't seen a girl with the whole package until this one," White said.

Rousey signed with the UFC in November after winning the bantamweight championship with Strikeforce. As part of Thursday's announcement, White presented her with a title belt as the UFC women's 135-pound class champion.

The fight against Carmouche will be Rousey's first with UFC. Many MMA fans hoped the initial women's bout would feature Rousey against Christine "Cyborg" Santos, who was the top female fighter in MMA before a failed drug test.

White said that fight will be coming in the future, but it was Carmouche who stepped up and said she wanted the main event against Rousey.

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

Rousey has quickly become the female face of MMA and she has won over White, who was once caught on video saying women would never fight in UFC.

Rousey has won all six of her professional fights and all by submission. She won the bantamweight title with Strikeforce in March 2011, then defended the title with a victory over Sarah Kaufman last August. Rousey has also gained a following outside the octagon with a charismatic personality and television and magazine appearances.

But as White noted, Rousey just wants to fight.

"She speaks well, the media loves her. It's hard not to like her," White said. "But some people don't like her, don't like the way she talks. But regardless of what you think about her personality, she's a mean, nasty fighter and that's what I look for and that's what I care about."

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