In the least kept secret of the entertainment world, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, made her “surprise” WWE debut last weekend after the finish of the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match. Rousey’s interest and love for the pro wrestling business is well documented to this point so the move to the WWE is not unexpected. For the WWE, the acquisition of Rousey means big business. She’ll inject immediate and significant mainstream interest into whatever WWE program she starts upon her official start with the company. She’ll raise the tide of the women’s divisions in WWE and will demand big opportunities from top WWE brass. For the UFC, this is a major loss and a significant blow to the company’s star power. Rousey hasn’t fought in over a year now, but her brand was synonymous with the UFC brand and her leaving creates voids and problems for the company.
- Ronda Rousey is their second biggest star of all-time
This is an easy one. Today, Ronda Rouse is the UFC’s second biggest star. That’s sad in a way given that she’s only fought one time in the last two years, but it’s true. Rousey was such a big star that she created interest and revenue regardless of what she did or where she went. The UFC was beside her in everything. Now, that goes away. With the WWE signing, Rousey will leave the company entirely and have to focus on promoting a competing business. Not many companies lose their top talent within their prime money making years, but the UFC managed to do so in letting Ronda walk.
- Ronda Rousey can still draw money
Rousey can still draw big money and lots of eyes. Her fight with Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 was virtually not promoted on her end and drew one million PPV buys. That type of star power in 2018 is unheard of and you can count on one hand those that possess it. With the move, she brings that ability elsewhere. The Ronda Rousey attraction was exclusive to the UFC and now she’ll be drawing money for a different company.
- UFC loses an ambassador for their company and their sport
Ronda Rousey changed the sports landscape for women everywhere around the world. Dana White and the UFC saw her talent and gave her the opportunity to be that change. Before the UFC, women weren’t successfully holding down main event slots on major pay per view events. White saw something in Rousey, put his machine behind her, and together they changed everything. On Rousey’s end, she backed up the hype and delivered stunning results when inside the octagon. Her story with the UFC is an incredible one and one that should be told regularly. That story could generate interest in the company, interest in MMA, and create a new generation of fans and fighters that will take over the sport in ten to twenty years. With Rousey on the outside of the UFC now, they lose the ability to feature that story. Worse, they lose the best ambassador in the world. Daniel Cormier selling the product on broadcasts and in interviews is effective. Ronda Rousey on the front lines given her history and impact would be a game changer for how the UFC presents itself. Her signing with the WWE takes that opportunity away.
- Rousey’s future UFC drawing ability is now dependent on her success in the WWE
Fighters always make “the comeback” right? It would be silly to think that Ronda Rousey is one hundred percent finished with mixed martial arts and the UFC altogether. Her return certainly won’t be for years down the road, but one has to think that it’s part of Rousey’s career plan. When that happens, it will obviously be a big moment for the UFC. The success of that big moment will now be contingent on how Rousey does in the WWE. If she’s a total bust, can’t work in the ring, and can’t be more than wide eyed celebrity, her shine to the public will wear off. Further, if the WWE positions Rousey with a happy go lucky babyface persona, her UFC perception and “character” will begin to fade with fans and those that pay attention to her in the MMA world. Her future success as a money draw in the UFC is now tied to a separate entity which is risky for the UFC given how much Ronda means to that company.
Ronda Rousey was a homegrown UFC star. She was the first star in the company to truly and holistically transcend her business. The WWE isn’t a stranger to this type of mega-star. Much like Rousey, The Rock was a homegrown star and became bigger and more successful outside of his original business. Will Ronda Rousey follow the same path? Only time and couple clotheslines will tell.
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