How big has Ronda Rousey's impact been on mixed martial arts (MMA) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)? Bigger than former box office behemoth, Brock Lesnar, that's how big.
Lesnar, who exploded onto the scene at UFC 81, never attracted the same level of media attention and buzz as "Rowdy," according to company president Dana White, who said at today's (Feb, 21, 213) UFC 157 press conference that his first-ever female Bantamweight champion is already a knockout outside the Octagon.
But, exactly how much more? According to White, it's not even close.
"No, she blows him out of the water. No fighter who has ever fought for the UFC has received as much attention as she has, it's a fact. Honestly, going into this thing, I didn't know that would happen. I didn't think HBO and TIME Magazine and all these other outlets that never come to us, would. I didn't see that happening. And if they did, I didn't think it was going to be positive. I thought it was going to be freak show. Nobody pulled the freak show card, nobody has really smashed the main event on this card and it's been pretty cool."
When Lesnar traded in his professional wrestling attire for MMA fight gloves, he brought with him legions of fans who followed and supported him during his time spent with World Wresting Entertainment (WWE). With it, he helped the UFC draw impressive pay-per-view(PPV) numbers in all seven events in which he participated, five of which he headlined, including the historic top-grossing UFC 100 card.
As Rousey prepares to make more history this weekend (Feb. 23, 2013) at UFC 157 when she takes on Liz Carmouche in the first-ever women's bantamweight title fight for the promotion, it will be interesting to see if all the attention she has garnered to date will translate into dollars and cents.
Is White once again blowing smoke? Or is this legitimate? I'll be honest with you lot, I've not seen one televised news story, nor a single newspaper or magazine article on Rousey since she signed with the UFC. And for what must be the first time in ages, not one of my friends has even acknowledged that there is a UFC PPV tomorrow. How is this reflective of the most covered performer in MMA?
I know that when Brock signed, and especially when he won the UFC HW championship, his face was everywhere. You'd read about him, see news stories on him, hear people talking about him. I have all the respect in the world for big Ronda, but I must be looking in all the wrong places because I've certainly neither seen nor heard the amount of coverage to justify Dana's claims.
Anyone feel differently?