Setting the (Arm)Bar: The Stakes Are High For Rousey vs. Carmouche at UFC 157

By Raphael Garcia

Those who are involved in professional sports have to deal with a different level of pressure than those who go to relatively “normal” every day jobs. These stars are expected to make major shots, lead game winning drives, and knock home runs out of the park, with millions of dollars at stake if they fail. In mixed martial arts, these athletes aren’t making the same amount of money, but they face a certain level of pressure when carrying a sport that still isn’t respected by many mainstream outlets. Of all of these fighters, very few may be facing the same pressure as one Ronda Rousey.

This weekend Ronda will walk into the Octagon to take part in a historical moment in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as one of the first two women to take part in a female’s MMA contest within the organization. She will defend her women’s bantamweight title against Liz Carmouche in the main event at UFC 157 in what is not only an important fight for her career, but any other woman in any weight class that intends to fight for the UFC at some point in her life.

The UFC has eight male champions in 8 different weight classes, not including the current 135 pound interim champion. Each of these eight men are fighting for the legitimacy of their careers and their careers alone when they are stepping into the cage. Rousey, on the other hand, is fighting to prove the viability of not only her own rise to fame, but the establishment of an entire division, along with the idea that women will truly have a place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Miesha Tate, Sara McMann, Cat Zingano, and any other woman who eventually makes her way to the UFC should have their eyes tuned into this bout and cheering at the top of their lungs. Whether you like her or not, Rousey has pushed herself and women’s MMA into this position by being the brazen, outspoken and attractive face that took the position when Gina Carano made her exit years ago. While it may be far off for any other woman to headline a UFC event in the future, the fact that the opportunity is there is a major improvement on any level.

Both Carmouche and Rousey have much more to fight for than any normal title bout this weekend. Not only are they fighting for the opportunity to hold that bantamweight title; they are fighting against the waves of people who may be upset that women are headlining a UFC show, and with knowledge of the fact that they need to draw major numbers on pay-per-view. UFC President Dana White was very blatant regarding his past feelings that women’s MMA would not be a draw in the Octagon at that time, and now the opportunity to prove him and everyone else wrong is on the table.

As the lead-in to the main event at UFC 157, continues to grow, there is much more on the line than a simple metal belt; for the sake of the establishment of women’s MMA, this fight needs to be a success. That success has fallen onto the shoulders of Rousey, who has been the face of building this event. When it’s all said and done come Sunday morning, we will all have a better idea of the future of women’s mixed martial arts.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche is due to take place on February 23, 2013 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

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