On FS1’s “UFC Tonight,” Dana White said he’s excited to have Ronda Rousey back and booked to fight again. Earlier today, UFC announced that Rousey will challenge Amanda Nunes for the UFC Bantamweight Women’s Championship at UFC 207 on Dec. 30. He also asserted once again that Rousey is the biggest star of all-time in UFC, which is subjectively disputed when compared to Conor McGregor.
“It’s good to have her back,” White said. “She’s a megastar. She’s the biggest star we’ve ever had in the history of the sport. With the way she went out and now the way Amanda went in to the title, against Miesha Tate, this is a good fight.”
FS1 analyst Kenny Florian said this is without question huge news for UFC. “When Ronda fights, everyone pays attention,” he said. “I mean everyone. She’s huge.” He wasn’t as definitive on her getting a title shot right away, though.
“I like fighters taking a warm-up fight after a long layoff,” he said. “But she’s a former champion. She’s very high level with submissions. Does she have the same striking skills as Nunes? No, but it’s the right fight for her. When Ronda fights, everyone pays attention. She’s huge.”
FS1 analyst Daniel Cormier endorsed Rousey getting the immediate rematch for the belt. “I think it’s the only fight for her.” he said. “It’s too dangerous taking warm-up fights. You want everything surrounding Ronda to be bigger. What’s bigger than a championship fight? They need her back and they need somebody to bring stability to the division.”
If she regains her title, White said he isn’t sure what’s next for her, but an eventual Cris Cyborg match-up is on the radar of anyone contemplating Rousey’s future. “I said she would fight Cyborg,” he said. “First, Ronda’s got to win. Then, I don’t know what she’d going to want to do. She’s told me she wants to fight Cyborg. As long as I’ve known her, she’s always wanted to fight Cyborg. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’ll fight her. I don’t know if she’s going to defend the title several times before that.”
Keller’s Analysis: From having sat in on an ESPN “MMA Live” production meeting in Bristol, Conn. a few years back, let’s just say I’m never surprised when two analysts happen to express opposing points of view on a hot discussion topic. I’m with Cormier here. Rousey is, if not the biggest star ever in UFC history, right up there in the very top tier, and taking a chance on her losing a non-title fight or having her beat a scrub first is just a waste of everyone’s time. Rousey was such a dominant champion for so many fights, and never got a rematch, and there’s no clear no. 1 contender she’s leapfrogging to get an immediate title shot, so this is not really a tough choice. From a financial standpoint, it’s a slam dunk to give her a title shot. If she loses, that hurts her drawing power and damages UFC’s star depth chart, and maybe she quits. But if she doesn’t, a Holly Holm fight – perhaps main eventing on Fox or at worst perhaps second-from-the-top on PPV – could be the next step which in case of a loss (or a win, for that matter), and if Rousey wins, it gets her right back into the top draw PPV main event category. If she wins at UFC 207, then line up the challengers and rake in the dough again in 2017 if Rousey’s loss against Holm ends up being her Buster Douglas moment.
NOW READ OUR ROUNDTABLE ON A RELATED TOPIC POSTED EARLIER TODAY: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 1): Who is the bigger star, Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor? Is it even close?