Top 10 of 2012: No. 3 Ronda Rousey signs with the UFC

December 31, 2012

MMA Payout’s No. 3 business story of 2012 is the Ronda Rousey phenomenon.  Dana White made Rousey the first woman to sign with the UFC.

2012 has been a big year for Rousey.  She is appealing with the mainstream media as she has a unique backstory, is open, honest and is a talented mixed martial artist.  Although White had sworn off women’s MMA in the UFC, he has changed his mind and now has Rousey headlining a PPV in February.   The attention Rousey has received and the UFC’s stagnant PPV numbers appear to be reasons for the UFC to embrace women’s MMA (or should we say Ronda Rousey).

MMA named her the Fighter of the Year.   Not only is she unstoppable in her arm bar mastery of all her opponents with finishes occurring within seconds of the opening bell, MMA Fighting points out the mainstream appeal of Rousey.

Via MMA Fighting:

Away from the cage, Rousey exhibited the same unstoppable force. She was the subject of a lengthy Sports Illustrated profile. She co-hosted TMZ. She was on the cover of Oxygen and ESPN The Magazine. She was a guest on Conan.

She is also in the January 2013 issue of Esquire.   When she signed, the UFC made a huge ad buy by plastering the back page of the Sports Business Journal welcoming Rousey to the UFC.  With her crossover appeal, Rousey could attract blue chip sponsors for herself and for the company.

Certainly, Rousey’s beauty has a lot to do with her mainstream appeal.  It also helps that she sprinkles talk of sex (see Jim Rome show) in her interviews.   But, she has received more mainstream appeal than Gina Carano.  Arguably, Carano was a gifted fighter and she did star in the movie “Haywire.”  But, Carano’s peak occurred at a time when Strikeforce was competing with the UFC.  Also, a loss to Cyborg Santos and subsequent injuries kept her away from fighting for 2 years and it’s unlikely she will return.

It will be interesting to see what Rousey’s base salary will be in the UFC.  In her last Strikeforce fight in August, Rousey had a $20K base with a $20K win bonus.  I would expect that the base should be higher.  Another interesting question would be if Rousey would get a percent of the PPV buys.  This is something done for main eventers although I’m not sure how much negotiating leverage Rousey’s representation had when she signed.

Rousey’s signing has brought up the debate of women’s MMA.  The sport is gaining some acceptance but one need only look at the mat after the Joe Lauzon-Jim Miller fighter to realize that this can be a bloodsport.  Could people stomach a women getting busted open like Lauzon?  For some, that’s a silly question.  For others, its a real issue.

Realistically, the hopes of women’s MMA in the UFC hinges on Rousey winning in February.  The marketing and promotion for the fight should be high considering how much the UFC has already backed her.  A loss (or an injury) could undo everything.

3 Responses to “Top 10 of 2012: No. 3 Ronda Rousey signs with the UFC”

  1. xxdoc_holidayxx on December 31st, 2012 8:25 PM

    Could not disagree more. There is NO doubt in my mind this fight with Carmouche will end like the others. However, IF Ronda loses for whatever reason, it would only propel the women’s division. If Liz were to hold the belt, EVERY bantamweight wmma fighter would be clawing for a chance at the belt. That would end up with say Tate, Kaufman, McMann, dare I say Cyborg holding the belt when Rousey comes to take it back! Are you kidding me?

  2. codemaster on January 1st, 2013 12:26 AM

    While I am in favor of women’s MMA, it is not at the top of my list of fights I want to see.

    I don’t see a woman MMA fighter being interesting to me unless she is good enough to compete with the men in the regular UFC.

    I don’t watch MMA fights to see men fighting–I watch MMA to see the BEST fighter. The knowledge that those fighters are the best fighters in their weight class is what is appealing to me. Watching fighters of lesser ability fight regardless of their gender is not why I watch MMA.

    Ronda Rousey is pretty much a one-trick pony. Clinch, trip, mount, armbar. Women’s MMA has a long way to go, and the skillsets of the women are terrible. The striking game is particularly bad–and I have seen no well-rounded female fighter–that is, well-rounded skills. Ahem.

    I find the introduction of women’s MMA drags along the baggage of gender equity and political correctness–which I find unwelcome in the sport.

    Dana White’s monetary and marketing infatuation with Rousey has already led him to some bad decisions. Having Rousey headline the main card is an unfortunate decision which I doubt will pull in good numbers at all–and those will be due to the Henderson-Machida fight–not Rousey and Carmouche. Dana White is convinced Ronda Rousey is already a star–since so many media outlets want a piece of her. But I don’t know any fellow MMA fans who actually would pay for a PPV to see her fight. I don’t know anyone starstruck by Rousey except reporters and UFC brass.

    Tits and ass are why Rousey is in the UFC. She posed nude or scantily clad for a number of magazines and media events–but how many pro fights has this UFC champ fought? If Ronda was ugly and her face looked like a goalie for a dart team–would this interest in her exist? Sure, she is an Olympic women’s Judo silver medalist–but so what? Could Rousey defeat the worst Bantam Weight in the men’s division? I don’t think so.

    There is a huge difference between men and women fighters. I am expected to say to myself: This MMA fighter would be terrible if she were a man, but since she is a woman–I should appreciate how good she is.

    The UFC should take care not to ram women’s MMA down their audience’s throats. As an MMA fan, I am heartily sick of the hype around Rousey.

  3. Sampson Simpson on January 1st, 2013 4:42 PM

    Dana lives in a bubble… somebody must stop him.

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