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 Fighting.com 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.