Rousey vs. McMann: Time to See Just How Big a Draw Ronda Really Is

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2014

Feb 21, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey participates in the UFC 170 weigh-in at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

We've all heard Dana White's most recent line of thought when it comes to stardom in the UFC: Ronda Rousey is the biggest star.

Not in the promotion today—she's the biggest star ever.

Yup, no one matches Rowdy Ronda in the annals of UFC history when it comes to star power.

Now, White's gushing like a schoolgirl over a teen idol aside, there's plenty wrong with that assertion. It's all well and good to make claims in the weeks leading up to a fight (promoters gonna promote, after all), but sometimes they're just outrageous.

To begin, Rousey has headlined precisely one UFC event in her long and storied eight-fight career. She's a daunting 2-0 in the promotion overall. While White has gone about proclaiming her the richest member of the roster and one of the 10 highest paid ever come Monday morning, with no metrics available or facts accessible, those points seem hyperbolic to say the least.

But Danaisms notwithstanding and the flimsy premise of much of this pro-Ronda absurdity ignored, the whole world is about to find out just how big a star Rousey really is.

UFC 170 has plenty of competition and almost no support for Rousey as a headliner. No one is paying $60 to watch Daniel Cormier fight Starbucks Guy, and with the Olympics offering an excellent alternative for sports fans (one that the UFC should have piggybacked on but didn't), there's another share of the market lost.

Not that any concrete truths will ever emerge in terms of true cash generated, pay-per-view trends or bank made by fighters, but the UFC office is going see what it's got in Rousey this weekend.

Her first fight was a big deal because it was unprecedented. It also had names like Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida and Urijah Faber on the card to make things a little more viable for the fan on the fence.

Her second fight was below living legend Anderson Silva and his bid to regain a title he held for nearly a decade, a fight that would have drawn close to a million buys on its own. Oh, and her bout was also supported by weeks of building heat through The Ultimate Fighter against her most hated rival.

This fight? This one is just a fight. It's a fight against an opponent who is classy and tough, one who avoids the spotlight and has about as much interest in controversy as Rousey has in avoiding it.

Nothing about it screams drawing power, and while White will simply shout louder if that's brought to his attention, it doesn't mean what he'll shout will hold any more truth.

Saturday night in Las Vegas, the first woman to hold a UFC title will look to defend it for a third time. There's no question she's a star—that's been evident since long before the UFC came calling—but we're all about to find out just how big a star she really is.


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