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Ronda Rousey is first woman to head UFC card

Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey speaks at

Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey speaks at a press conference two days before she defends her title against Sarah Kaufman in San Diego. (Aug. 16, 2012) Credit: Strikeforce/Esther Lin

Ronda Rousey avoids life's in-betweens.

"It's all or nothing," she said. "Zero to 60."

That speed metaphor works for her undefeated mixed martial arts career, too. After five pro fights, she was a champion. After her sixth pro fight, Rousey raced up the superstar status ladder to a place no woman ever reached -- the UFC.

Dana White, UFC president, for years said women's MMA was unlikely to find a home in the world's largest promotion.


Then came Rousey -- young, talented, outspoken, attractive.


Rousey, an Olympic judo bronze medalist in 2008, won the Strikeforce women's bantamweight championship last March and became the first female fighter in the UFC in November. Wait, there's more.

Rousey, 26,  was installed as the UFC women's bantamweight champion and found her name at the top of the fight card and her face at the top of the promotional posters and billboards. Yes, two women will headline Saturday's UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif., when Rousey defends her title against former Marine Liz Carmouche.

When White announced Rousey's champion status and first UFC fight last December, he made clear this important point: "She is the main event."

A woman headlining a UFC event and bumping former champion Lyoto Machida against Dan Henderson to the secondary, pedestrian "co-main event"? Gasp!

The decision met its share of disdain in social media -- what doesn't these days? -- and other online outlets. Rousey doesn't care. She pushes forward.

"If I was waiting my turn in line for something like this to happen, my whole window of opportunity would have closed by then," Rousey said. "Waiting my turn doesn't work. Making my turn is the only thing I see results from, so I'm making my turn."

That approach helps make Rousey a marketable sensation. She's ferocious in the cage -- six first-round submissions via armbar, five in less than a minute. (She was 3-for-3 as an amateur.) And she's brash outside the cage. Some recent examples:

On golf being in the Olympics and not wrestling: "If you don't break a sweat, it's a not a sport, it's a skill."

On rival Cris "Cyborg" Santos: "She could run around and make a bunch of noise and be a big 'Cryborg' as much as she wants, but at some point, she's going to have to come around and take the only fight that's really available for her."

On possibly coaching "The Ultimate Fighter": "The first time I hear a girl complain she doesn't want to come to practice because she has cramps is going to be the day that I die laughing."

On being asked so many questions about her father, who died when she was 8: "When does it become such a point where people have dehumanized you so much that they don't mind coming up to you and just asking you something so personal out of the blue? When do you stop getting treated like a human any more?"

Those questions don't stop. Neither does Rousey.


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