As the year 2012 ends, women’s MMA star Ronda Rousey was clearly one of the biggest stories of the last twelve months. It was interesting to see that the UFC 157 headlined by her title fight with Liz Carmouche on February 23rd in Anaheim was experiencing lukewarm ticket sales. And from a bettor’s perspective, the match is a complete non starter, as Rousey is certainly going to come in favored by a 10 to 1 margin. The UFC has grossly mishandled the aspect of women’s MMA and bad ticket sales are the result.
With all due respect to Liz Carmouche, who is a solid competitor, she is not the right first opponent for Rousey in terms of recognition. What is the UFC trying to do here? And despite having roughly a dozen active cards on the books and announced at any given time, the UFC has not announced a single other women’s MMA fight or any plans or anything.
Yet Rousey is reported to have signed a 6 fight deal with the UFC. It is clear from they UFC and President Dana White’s style of promoting that they are going to push for a fight with Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos next. But without having an active and competitive weight division going, it becomes clear that the UFC is hedging their bets.
The fact that White just handed Rousey a belt shows that the UFC sort of fell into the cult of personality Rousey has developed. Rousey has attracted a lot of attention for a fighter who is really just starting a career, and she has attracted a lot on entourage and she has made a lot of waves. White, rather than invest in a women’s division, has gone all in on Rousey. If it doesn’t work out, look for the UFC to fold the women MMA early.
Rousey’s people didn’t do a particularly good job on their end – she is said to be getting a $150,000 pay day if she wins the fight per her contract. Probably not reported is also a percentage of the PPV, which could considerably raise Rousey’s share of the take.
Despite a solid main card supporting the main event, I expect UFC is going to likely have their lowest PPV buy in a long time for this main event. At between $50-$60 dollars a pop on the PPV is serious business, and the UFC is going to find out whether banking on Rousey was the right thing to do.