It was a night almost 20 years in the making and in just under six hours numerous questions were answered and history was made.
All the hype leading up to Saturday’s UFC 157 centered around the main event between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche and rightfully so. The two women were taking part in the first-ever women’s mma bout to ever take place in the UFC. Their main event title bout exceeded expectations, but they weren’t the only newsmakers on this night.
On a night full of winners and losers, more attention should be paid to those who gained the most from UFC 157…and, they were:
Alexander Gustafsson: Yes, “The Mauler” didn’t take part in UFC 157 but the 15-1 light-heavyweight might have gained the most from the night’s co-main event. Lyoto Machida defeated Dan Henderson in an excruciatingly 15-minute fight that felt more like a slow crawl. The two barely engaged in any action as Lyoto kept his distance, trying not to get caught by Henderson’s infamous “H-Bomb”. Even though UFC President Dana White said Machida was the new No. 1 contender and would face the winner of Jon Jones/Chael Sonnen, don’t be surprised if Gustafsson leaps Machida with another impressive victory.
Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice: The two featherweights put on an amazing three-round battle that earned them Fight of the Night honors and kept them safe from more roster cuts. White stated that even with the loss, Grice would not be in danger of getting cut. Both men left it all in the octagon and left with the respect, admiration of the fans and their fellow fighters.
Strikeforce alumni: The new crop of fighters added to the roster after the folding of Strikeforce have added a lot to the UFC roster. With the performances of Nah-Shon Burrell, Caros Fodor and Robbie Lawler tonight (not to mention Rousey and Carmouche), the Strikeforce alumni have been stellar. If this trend continues, and it’s hard to believe it won’t, there could be a changing of the guard in the UFC.
Team Alpha Male: Who would’ve seen this coming? After a mediocre 2012 for the diminutive fight team from Sacramento, Calif., Team Alpha Male is 3-0 in the UFC this year. Starting with UFC Flyweight Joseph Benavidez defeating Ian McCall at UFC 156, then Bantamweight Danny Castillo defeating Paul Sass at UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs McDonald and leader of TAM Urijah Faber defeating Ivan Menjivar, the team has impressed thus far. Faber’s victory was the most impressive. His transition to Menjivar’s back into a standing rear-naked choke was a thing of beauty and cemented him as one of the UFC’s premier bantamweights. There’s been a change with the intensity since Duane Ludwig took over as the team’s head coach.
Women’s Mixed Martial Arts: There is no bigger winner than female fighters with aspirations to fight in the UFC one day. Hinging the future of a group of athletes on one fight is reaching, but everyone knew if Ronda Rousey vs Liz Carmouche did not deliver then the future of women’s MMA looked bleak. However, the two fighters exceeded all expectations and put on a great main event fight. The bout lasted less than one round, but had more action than the Henderson vs Machida fight. Carmouche almost pulled off the huge upset as she worked to sink in a rear-naked choke, but the champion escaped and looked for a finish of her own. Rousey managed to pull off yet another armbar submission victory in the first-round. Although it was not easy, Rousey proved her armbar is the most dangerous maneuver in MMA and unable to defend against.
The future is unknown, but if UFC 157’s main event was any sign of things to come then women’s MMA will definitely become a bright spot in the UFC.
Follow Nitesh Dutt on Twitter @NiteshDutt.