A day after a bit of a tease about Ronda Rousey's first UFC fight, things finally are official.
But Rousey won't be fighting Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, as Wednesday's rumor had her meeting. Instead, Rousey (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will be meeting Liz Carmouche (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) as the first defense of her new UFC women's bantamweight title at UFC 157 in February.
UFC President Dana White made the announcement following Thursday's pre-event news conference for UFC on FOX 5 in Seattle, and he presented Rousey with her new UFC belt.
UFC 157 takes place Feb. 23 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Rousey vs. Carmouche will be the main event of the card, which will air on pay-per-view, FX and Facebook.
News broke this past month that Rousey would migrate over from Strikeforce, where she was the women's bantamweight champ, to become the first female fighter in UFC history. But just who her first opponent would be and when that fight would take place were up in the air, despite White telling multiple news outlets that it was official that Rousey was in the UFC.
Her Strikeforce contract and Zuffa's deal with Strikeforce broadcast partner Showtime appeared to be potential stumbling blocks for expediting the process. But with White's presentation of Rousey in Seattle, those hurdles appear to have been cleared – at least well enough to announce a fight for her.
On Wednesday, the UFC's Brazilian website mistakenly announced a Rousey UFC debut at the same event, UFC 157, but had her main eventing against Santos – which the UFC explained as a technical glitch and later removed.
Now, a day later, it will indeed be Rousey headlining that card in her backyard – she hails from Southern California – but against Carmouche.
"It's going to happen eventually," Rousey said at the news conference of a potential fight against Santos. "I can't make these girls fight who don't want to fight me. (Carmouche) was the only one who stepped up, and it speaks a lot to her. When the other girls come around, they know where I'm at."
Rousey said receiving her UFC championship belt and having the fight announced on the heels of a press conference for Saturday's card, which features Benson Henderson's lightweight title defense against Nate Diaz, came as a surprise to her.
"I didn't even know about this till this morning," she said. "I don't even know what to make of it. It means a lot, and we have a lot to prove. I think the women are here to stay, and I think we're going to prove it."
White, of course, long said he didn't foresee a day when women would fight in the UFC, owning that belief to a perceived lack of depth in the women's divisions. But with Rousey's emergence over the last year as a bona fide star not just of women's MMA, but of all MMA, he came around.
She enters the fight, of course, unbeaten with a record consisting solely of first-round armbar submission wins. She won the Strikeforce title in March by stopping Miesha Tate, who went longer with her than all her other pro opponents combined. In August, she defended the title with an armbar of Sarah Kaufman.
Carmouche took a 5-0 record into a Strikeforce women's bantamweight title fight against Marloes Coenen in March 2011, but was stopped with a triangle choke in the fourth round. Carmouche took that fight on short notice, filling in for an injured Tate. Her next outing, she lost a decision to Kaufman.
But since then, she has back-to-back wins under the Invicta banner, and both by stoppage.