On Saturday, Feb. 23, the UFC held UFC 157 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The event was headlined by women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who competed in the Octagon for the first time against former Strikeforce title challenger Liz Carmouche. The historic bout marked the first women’s fight in the promotion’s history.

In addition to the main event, the main card also featured former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida battling former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson, longtime WEC featherweight kingpin Urijah Faber rematching Ivan Menjivar in a bantamweight affair, Ultimate Fighter 11 winner Court McGee making his welterweight debut against Josh Neer, and former title challenger Josh Koscheck welcoming Robbie Lawler back to the UFC.

The event featured a total of 12 bouts. The pay-per-view main card featured five bouts, while the preliminary card was split between a two-hour, four-fight showcase on FX and an additional three bouts streamed via the promotion’s YouTube page.

Rousey survives early scare, submits Carmouche to retain title

History was made as the UFC hosted its first women’s contest, and champion Ronda Rousey retained her 135-pound title with her seventh straight first-round armbar.

Rousey quickly closed the distance and pressed Carmouche against the fence. The former Olympic judoka dragged the fight to the ground. Carmouche quickly transitioned to Rousey’s back and put the champion in danger for the first time in her career. Despite the deep neck crank attempt from Carmouche, Rousey defended and shook the challenger off. Rousey landed in side control and tied up Carmouche with a headlock, raining left hands. Carmouche allowed Rousey to shift her hips and attack her left arm. Carmouche worked hard to defend, but Rousey was able to secure her signature move and force Carmouche to tap with seconds remaining in the round.

With the win, Rousey picked up her first Octagon win and moved her record to 7-0.

Machida outpoints Henderson

In a light heavyweight contest to establish the next challenger to the 205-pound strap currently held by Jon Jones, former champion Lyoto Machida edged Dan Henderson by split decision.

The clash of styles between the wrestler Henderson and karate practitioner Machida was apparent from the opening bell. Henderson barreled forward searching for his powerful overhand right, but the Brazilian Machida evaded it time and time again. The feeling out process equated to little action until Machida scored with a trip takedown in the waning seconds of the first round.

Machida scored with counter left hands and kicks to the body in the second frame, as Henderson’s frustration became more and more evident. Henderson continued his forward march but was unable to connect with anything more than leg kicks.

A slip from Machida early in the final round allowed Henderson to gain top position on the mat, but the American was unable to do anything with it. Machida attacked with a kimura on Henderson’s right arm and brought the fight back to the feet. More kicks from Machida ensued as the final bell sounded.

In the end, two of the judges at cageside rewarded the elusive Brazilian for his efforts. The former champion apologized as the crowd voiced their disapproval of the slow-paced, awkward contest.

Faber chokes Menjivar

Bantamweight Urijah Faber made a strong statement that he’s still a contender in the 135-pound division with a dominant performance against Ivan Menjivar in a rematch seven years in the making.

Faber pressed forward early and was planted on his back by a beautiful throw from Menjivar. However, Faber quickly reversed the position and landed in side control. Menjivar recovered his guard, but Faber began unloading heavy elbows from the top position. Despite the punishment, Menjivar was able to scramble to his feet, but allowed Faber to take his back. The Californian attacked Menjivar’s neck as he hung from his back, forcing the veteran to tap to a standing rear-naked choke.

“I’m so happy to get a win here,” said ‘The California Kid.’ “He let me hold on too long and that was the end.”

McGee batters Neer in new weight class

Ultimate Fighter season 11 winner Court McGee made a successful debut in the welterweight division, battering veteran Josh Neer to pick up a unanimous decision win.

McGee’s pace and pressure were the story of the opening round. Using his reach advantage, McGee peppered Neer with jab after jab. Late in the frame, McGee delivered a devastating kick to Neer’s liver which forced him to crumple to the canvas. Not realizing where Neer was hurt, McGee looked for a choke, but was unable to finish before the bell.

Neer came out swinging in the second stanza, turning the tide from the opening frame. McGee’s output slowed, but he answered every strike from Neer with one of his own.

In the final round, McGee turned to his wrestling to ensure victory. After trading briefly, McGee planted Neer on his back and rained shots from the top. Neer escaped to his feet on more than one instance, but McGee quickly returned him to the canvas. A late barrage of elbows from “The Crusher” turned Neer’s already-beaten face into a bloody mess.

McGee claimed the fight on all three scorecards.

Lawler finishes Koscheck

Welterweight Robbie Lawler returned to the UFC with a first-round stoppage win over former title challenger Josh Koscheck.

Koscheck showcased his wrestling prowess early in the bout, putting the hard-hitting Lawler on his back with a powerful double-leg takedown. Lawler used a butterfly guard to get back to his feet along the fence, but was forced to cope with the former national champion wrestler’s single-leg attempt. When Koscheck dove hard for a takedown, Lawler stuffed the shot and transitioned to Koscheck’s back along the cage. From there, he unloaded a vicious barrage that forced referee Herb Dean to intervene.

Koscheck protested the stoppage, but the fighter had nowhere to escape with his head pinned against the fence and mat.

“It feels great,” said Lawler of his victorious return to the promotion. “I was raining down hard shots, he wasn’t coming back.”

Preliminary Card Summary

It wasn’t the slugfest that most expected, but heavyweight Brendan Schaub snapped a two-fight losing streak with a lopsided decision win over Lavar Johnson. Rather than stand and trade with the heavy-handed AKA product, Schaub exploited Johnson’s poor takedown defense and kept the fight on the mat throughout the 15-minute affair. Schaub nearly ended the fight with an anaconda choke in the opening frame, but was content to work from Johnson’s guard and half guard in the later rounds. Schaub took all three rounds on all three scorecards.

Winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Live, lightweight Michael Chiesa kept his undefeated record intact with a second-round submission of Finland’s Anton Kuivanen. Kuivanen opened the fight scoring with combinations on the feet and backing Chiesa against the fence. In the second round, the Finnish fighter prevented Chiesa from getting a takedown, but made a mistake and allowed Chiesa to take his back standing. Chiesa locked on a body triangle and brought the fight to the ground, where he secured the fight-ending rear-naked choke.

Featherweights Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice made a strong case for not only the “Fight of the Night” bonus, but also the title of “Fight of the Year” with an electric back-and-forth battle that saw Bermudez leave the cage with a split decision win. Grice dropped Bermudez with a massive left hook in the opening frame after getting mounted in the opening minute. Both fighters scored on the feet in the middle frame, with Grice’s left hook again finding its mark. In the final frame, it was Bermudez who went for the win, unloading with uppercut after uppercut and dropping Grice multiple times. Grice somehow stayed conscious and fired back, but the damage cost him on the scorecards.

Veteran lightweight Sam Stout showed a versatile offensive attack, spoiling the UFC debut of former Strikeforce contender Caros Fodor. Stout had a strong opening round, mounting Fodor and working for an armbar. The second round was razor-close, as both fighters had moments of offense in the clinch. Round three was Fodor’s best as he pushed the action, but he would come up short as two of the three judges at cageside favored Stout’s performance.

Welterweight Kenny Robertson picked up his first Octagon win with a unique submission of Brock Jardine. Jardine opened the fight with a deep arm-in guillotine attempt, but Robertson escaped. Robertson transitioned to Jardine’s back and attacked the left leg of Jardine. Using his hook, Robertson forced Jardine to tap to the kneebar.

In a battle of semifinalists from The Ultimate Fighter season 16, welterweight Neil Magny cruised to a decision win over Jon Manley.  The story of the fight was Manley’s inability to secure a takedown, as Magny frequently shrugged him off. Magny scored with his strikes and takedowns and escaped a late armbar attempt from Manley to claim victory.

Despite failing to make the welterweight limit, promotional newcomer Nah-Shon Burrell bested fellow Strikeforce crossover Yuri Villefort by unanimous decision in a back-and-forth affair. Villefort nearly ended the contest with a rear-naked choke early in the opening round, but Burrell’s boxing was the difference in the later rounds as he battered the Brazilian’s face until the final bell.

FULL RESULTS
Ronda Rousey def. Liz Carmouche by submission (armbar). Round 1, 4:49 – retains women’s bantamweight title
Lyoto Machida def. Dan Henderson by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Urijah Faber def. Ivan Menjivar by submission (standing rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:34
Court McGee def. Josh Neer by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Robbie Lawler def. Josh Koscheck by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 3:57
Brendan Schaub def. Lavar Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Mike Chiesa def. Anton Kuivanen by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 2:29
Dennis Bermudez def. Matt Grice by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Sam Stout def. Caros Fodor by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Kenny Robertson def. Brock Jardine by submission (kneebar). Round 1, 2:57
Neil Magny def. Jon Manley by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Nah-Shon Burrell def. Yuri Villefort by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Photo: Ronda Rousey (L) faces off with Liz Carmouche (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)