With all due respect to Liz Carmouche, who's helping make history tonight in the UFC 157 main event, the mainstream audience is tuning in to see Ronda Rousey. Everyone wants to know if she's worthy of the massive hype she has received.
Rousey and Carmouche are taking part in UFC's first women's fight, which is an accomplishment in its own right. Once that opening bell rings, however, people will want to be entertained just like any other fight or sporting event.
Knowing that, it's up to Rousey to showcase why she's on the fast track to stardom. People who have never watched an MMA fight are suddenly interested in Saturday night's card because they heard so much about her leading up to it.
The California native is 6-0 in her career. All six victories have come by first-round submission and five of them came within the first minute. It's truly an amazing run of dominance, and the viewing audience will expect it to continue.
That's not an easy standard to live up to. It's not simple to win six fights in a row period, let alone doing it within one minute the vast majority of the time. The uniqueness of it has helped Rousey's stock risk, but living up to the expectations won't be easy.
Carmouche plays a role, as well. She's 8-2 in her career and possesses good striking ability. If Rousey doesn't take control right away and the underdog gets a chance to settle in, suddenly a sure victory turns into a real challenge for the Bantamweight Championship holder.
The success of the entire event is riding on Rousey's shoulders. There are some other fights that should make for a strong undercard, including Dan Henderson against Lyoto Machida, but the main storyline is going to be Rousey no matter what.
Does she have the talent to score another easy victory and keep the hype train speeding down the track? Absolutely, but it's not a lock and the lack of attention Carmouche is getting should definitely serve as added motivation.
Rousey has to overcome the added attention, the pressure of maintaining her unmatched track record and, of course, her opponent. That's a lot to deal with for a fighter who's just getting her first chance to shine in the sport's top promotion.
If she succeeds, her popularity will explode and it will prove UFC made the right decision. If not, people will walk away wondering what all the attention was for and the sport will miss out on a golden opportunity to attract more fans.
It all comes down to Rousey's ability to dominate another opponent.
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