UFC 157: Five Ways Ronda Rousey's Debut Could Be a Total Failure
Although UFC 157 will be a historic night for mixed martial arts, there's no avoiding the fact that it could also be a death knell for the careers of many female fighters.
Despite the best efforts of Ronda Rousey and the UFC, the women's bantamweight champion's debut is being built on a house of cards.
So far, only a small handful of women have officially been signed to the UFC.
President Dana White, for his part, doesn't seem too committed to women's MMA one way or the other, constantly claiming that he's testing the waters. So, what happens if everything goes south and the event is a total bust?
How could that even happen?
Well, there's more than a few ways Rousey's debut could flame out before it ever heats up. If any of these five circumstances comes to pass, UFC fans might be saying "so long" to Rousey and the women's division before the year is even over.
No. 5: Ronda Rousey Loses to Liz Carmouche
Despite what online betting books and oddsmakers might tell you, there's actually a very real chance that Carmouche could beat Rousey this February.
Besides, "Girl-Rilla" has arguably fought and beaten better fighters than "Rowdy" herself.
To date, Carmouche's most impressive performance in a cage wasn't even a victory, as she nearly pulled off an upset over former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen before getting trapped in a triangle choke.
Although the division wouldn't immediately come to an end if Rousey lost to Carmouche, it could destroy the champion's hype in an instant, especially if she loses in one-sided fashion.
No. 4: UFC 157 Bombs on Pay-Per-View
Since Ronda Rousey's star didn't start to rise until Strikeforce was already firmly set on its death march, we really have no idea how to gauge her drawing power.
As it stands, UFC 157 will be her first real test, as pay-per-view buys are typically a very solid indication of a champion's worth to the company.
Thankfully, Rousey will have plenty of assistance from a strong supporting cast with Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida as the co-main event bout, not to mention the return of California favorite Urijah Faber.
According to MMA Payout, an average UFC PPV in 2012 drew about 427,000 buys between January and August. If Rousey can't draw anything close to that with Henderson, Machida and Faber in tow, that could signal some early warning signs.
No 3: Rousey vs. Carmouche Draws a Poor Live Gate
Not only is it hard to guess how the UFC's first female championship bout will draw on PPV, but Anahiem's Honda Center is also a tough first venue for Rousey.
As reported by MMA Fighting's Dave Meltzer, ticket sales haven't been hot for UFC 157 yet, although he notes that LA and Anaheim have been slow-starters for MMA events.
Still, the UFC could use a home run since suffering a 50 percent dip in ticket revenue between UFC on Fox 1 (Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos) and UFC 121 (Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez). Diminishing returns like that are usually a problem, especially given that both cards were headlined by heavyweight main events.
Add in the fact that Rousey's ticket sales were pretty lackluster in Strikeforce—the place where her fame was first born—and you have to wonder just how many free passes the UFC will be handing out in February. Anything less than a $1 million live gate or 10,000 fans in the seats could hurt.
No. 2: Rousey Gets Injured
Hey, the injury bug already tore apart the UFC's calendar last year.
Who's to say that the curse won't hit Rousey, too?
Still, UFC 157 is stacked enough that losing the main event won't cause the entire fight card to be cancelled. If Rousey went down to a training accident, Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida would simply slide into the headline spot (probably to the delight of some fans).
Even though her debut would be pushed back to a later date, the UFC has already invested a lot of work in promoting Rousey's first event with the company. Any delays would be a major setback.
No. 1: Rousey vs. Carmouche Ends in a Boring, Grinding Decision
"Submission, Armbar, Round 1."
That's how every single one of Ronda Rousey's nine MMA bouts (three amateur and six professional fights) have ended so far, and statistically, such a streak is bound to end sooner or later.
But even if Rousey wins by knockout, decision or submission late into her first UFC title defense, the thing that's most important is that her victory's exciting.
Anything's fine, as long as the fight doesn't bore the fans.
True, it's hard to imagine. Female fighters at Rousey's level are typically known for keeping an extremely high pace and leaving everything in the cage.
But it's possible that the UFC 157 main event could turn into a boring clinchfest or tepid striking battle that goes to the judges. If restless fans start booing the women's champion, just imagine the aneurysm it would give Dana White.