Ronda Rousey was installed as the first UFC women's champion. (Neil Davidson / Canadian…)
It was quite an announcement Thursday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship declaring that it would begin a new women’s arm of fighting, with the Southland’s Ronda Rousey installed as the first champion.
It made for a moment that might bring a girl to tears.
But that’s not Rousey, who when asked if she even came close to shedding a tear responded flatly, “No.”
“I was the least articulate and least prepared I’ve ever been. … I had to go run and buy clothes this morning,” Rousey said. “I knew this was coming, but I was still scared and was emotionally impacted by it.
“But there was no way I was going to get up there and say, ‘Oh, thank you so much, boo, hoo, hoo. … I was at a loss for words, though.”
In addition to receiving the belt, the 25-year-old Rousey (6-0 with six first-round victories) was given a Feb. 23 main-event, pay-per-view fight at Anaheim’s Honda Center against Liz Carmouche (7-2 with four knockouts and two submissions).
Rousey was given the UFC’s 135-pound belt.
“If it’s a championship fight, for a UFC belt that means so much. It should be a main event,” Rousey said. “If they put a non-title men’s fight before mine, that would be pretty backwards, insulting. This belt is prestigious.”
Rousey undoubtedly brought women’s fighting to the UFC by herself, attracting UFC President Dana White’s attention with her dominant performances rooted in her experiences as a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in judo.
White had steadfastly insisted in the past he had no desire to bring women’s fighting to the UFC octagon.
The accomplishment will bring some talented fighters to the organization, likely including Cris “Cyborg” Santos, Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen.
Rousey said she isn’t the type to spend a massive amount of time reflecting on such an important gender breakthrough.
“I’m proud of myself, but I come from an overachieving family who taught me to keep pushing to achieve your goals, not to bask in them,” Rousey said. “I can’t sit back and think I’ve made it now when there’s so much more to do.”
Rousey said she’ll accept any fight the UFC extends.
She also expressed guilt for taking some of the spotlight away from male fighters preparing for Saturday’s fifth UFC on Fox card in Seattle, headlined by the lightweight title fight between champion Benson Henderson and Rousey’s close friend, Nate Diaz.
“Nate and his brother Nick helped me in mixed martial arts before this stuff was all spotlighted, and I will always remember and appreciate that,” Rousey said. “They were there for me before the circus came to town.”
That circus will increase its attendance Feb. 23 when Rousey brings her belt to the Honda Center octagon.
“I can deal with it,” Rousey said. “It’s big, but it’s not the Olympics. Real pressure is training your whole life and it all comes down to one day. Even though there’s much more attention on this, I had much more pressure on me getting through the Olympics.”