ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ronda Rousey won her mixed martial arts fight Saturday night via first-round armbar, as she has in all seven of her career bouts.
But in the first women's fight in UFC history, she was pushed like never before on the way there.
Upstart Liz Carmouche gave Rousey, the UFC women's bantamweight champion, all she could handle in the main event of UFC 157 before Rousey pulled out the victory with 11 seconds left in the opening round to a roar from the sellout crowd at the Honda Center.
Carmouche (7-3), a San Diego resident, withstood an early Rousey attack, then jumped up on the 2008 Olympic judo medalist's back. She first applied a rear-naked choke and then a neck crank, nearly scoring the upset win, before Rousey managed to throw Carmouche to the mat.
The Venice, Calif. native then slowly worked Carmouche into position for her signature armbar. While Carmouche nearly managed to get out of the round, Rousey clinched the armbar tight and Carmouche surrendered.
"It got a little crazy there," said Rousey. "I just knew that I had to stay patient and make sure I didn't lose my composure. Liz is a real tough chick, I have all the respect in the world for her."
The fight's finish was the culmination of a week of unprecedented buildup to the first ever women's fight in the near two-decade history of the UFC, as Rousey gained mainstream media attention usually only reserved for the biggest UFC events.
Carmouche, the first openly gay fighter in UFC history, was appreciative of her place in history.
"It was an awesome experience," Carmouche said. "I thought I had her, it was pretty close, but Ronda is as good as she is for a reason."
Lyoto Machida made his case for a shot at Jon Jones' light heavyweight title, even if the Honda Center crowd didn't appreciate his efforts.
Machida, a former light heavyweight champion, scored a controversial split decision win over former multiple weight-class champ Dan Henderson. The shotokan karate specialist known for his patient, counter-striking fighting style, played his game well.
Henderson, a native of nearby Temecula, Calif, is a former Olympic wrestler who also boasts a powerful right hand. Machida managed to stifle both of Henderson's points of attack and land effect counter kicks. That was enough to sway two of the three judges, who scored the bout 29-28 for Machida. The other saw it 29-28 Henderson.
The crowd jeered the outcome.
"I just want to say thanks," said Machida (19-3), who has relocated to Redondo Beach, Calif. "Sorry the fight was not great for you."
Crowd favorite Urijah Faber put on an impressive show in defeating fellow veteran Ivan Menjivar in a bantamweight showdown. Faber, the former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion from Sacramento, found himself in early trouble, as Menjivar, a Montreal resident by way of El Salvador, tossed him with a crisp judo throw. But Faber reversed position on the mat and took control of the fight.
When Menjivar got to his feet, Faber electrified the crowd by leaping on to Menjivar's back and an applying a rear-naked choke. Menjivar submitted at 4:34.
"California's my spot, man," Faber (27-6) said. "You know, Ivan's a very crafty vet and he's a pioneer in this sport. I just attacked the back and just held on and won it."
In a welterweight bout, San Diego's Court McGee outboxed veteran Josh Neer to earn a unanimous-decision win. A former middleweight, McGee trained at "The Pit" in San Luis Obispo, Calif., best known as the home gym of popular former UFC champion Chuck Liddell, for his 170-pound debut. McGee was Liddell-like in both his high volume of punches and his constant forward movement as he peppered Neer throughout the bout. In the third-round, McGee dropped Neer and dominated him on the round for the rest of the fight. The judges' scores with 30-27 across the board for McGee (14-3), who snapped a two-fight losing streak. Neer (33-13-1), of Des Moines, Iowa, dropped his third straight fight.
In the main-card welterweight opener, Davenport, Iowa's Robbie Lawler made his return to the UFC count with a first-round TKO of veteran Josh Koscheck (17-7). Koscheck, of Fresno, Calif., is a former NCAA champion wrestler and dominated much of the fight with his grappling game. But the 30-year-old Lawler, who was once considered a can't miss prospect, showed off his punching power with a flurry of shots which caused referee Herb Dean to stop the bout at 3:57.
"It's great being back, thanks for having me baby," Lawler (20-9, 1 no-contest) said. "I was raining down hard shots and knew he was going to take a beating. He wasn't coming back."