A chronological look at Ronda Rousey’s UFC pay-per-view business impact.
Although it has been a foregone conclusion for a while, Ronda Rousey’s induction into the UFC Hall of Fame will bring closure to Rousey’s MMA career.
Over the past three years the MMA legacy of Rousey has been clouded by her inability to make peace with her time in the sport. Despite these misgivings, it is impossible to deny that Rousey was a massive star within the sport.
However, it is difficult to quantify just how big of a star Rousey was. Fortunately, there are a few metrics that can be used to measure Rousey’s impact on the UFC. Two of those units are pay-per-view buy’s and gate revenue.
Here is a breakdown of Rousey’s pay-per-view career.
-Opponent: Liz Carmouche
–Date: February 23, 2013
-Gate revenue: $1,350,191
-Previous months buyrate: 330,000 (Aldo vs. Edgar)
-Following months buyrate: 950,000 (St-Pierre vs. Diaz)
Amazingly, Ronda Rousey was charged with headlining a pay-per-view in her UFC debut. 450,000 might not have been a huge number in early 2013, it was nonetheless impressive for a fighter who has never fought for the UFC in an official capacity. Given that Rousey-Carmouche was the first-ever women’s fight in UFC history, a disastrous buyrate could have submarined the sport for an entire gender.
-Opponent: Miesha Tate
-Date: December 28, 2013
-Gate revenue: $6,238,792
-Previous months buyrate: 630,000 (St-Pierre vs. Hendricks)
-Following months buyrate: 230,000 (Barao vs. Faber II)
It should be noted that Rousey was in the co-main event here, playing second fiddle to the rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva. Despite the designation, Rousey-Take played a vital role in selling this card. While Rousey-Tate was a Strikeforce rehash, the bout felt as fresh as possible. It can also be argued, that this was the last time that “The Ultimate Fighter” was successfully used to build a pay-per-view fight.
-Opponent: Sara McMann
-Date: February 22, 2014
-Gate revenue: $1,558,870
-Previous months buyrate: 230,000 (Barao vs Faber II)
-Following months buyrate: 300,000 (Hendricks vs Lawler)
This seems to be the forgotten fight of the Rousey mythology. 2014 was a rough year for the UFC, and this pedestrian buyrate highlights the some of the pre-McGregor struggles. At this point Rousey still needed an interesting opponent to set the pay-per-view market on fire.
-Opponent: Alexis Davis
-Date: July 5, 2014
-Gate revenue: $4,400,000
-Previous months buyrate: 115,000 (Johnson vs Bagautinov)
-Following months buyrate: 125,000 (Dillashaw vs Soto)
At UFC 175, Rousey was once again positioned behind a Chris Weidman title defense. Like 168, this was a team effort. 545,000 was the highest pay-per-view number that UFC did in 2014. Rousey was now well on her way to becoming a clear difference maker for the UFC. Also, Rousey’s :16 second dismantling of Davis was the catalyst to the notion that Rousey was an unstoppable force.
-Opponent: Cat Zingano
-Date: February 28, 2015
–Gate revenue: $2,675,560
-Previous months buyrate: 650,000 (Silva vs Diaz)
-Following months buyrate: 310,000 (Pettis vs Dos Anjos)
UFC 184 was an illustration in the sustainability of Ronda Rousey. Although Rousey was originally scheduled to yet again be in the co-main event of a Chris Weidman title defense, at UFC 184, Rousey staked her claim as a top tier draw. It also proved that fans would indeed pay for a short main event.
-Opponent: Bethe Correia
-Date: August 1, 2015
–Gate revenue: Not reported for Brazilian events.
–Previous months buyrate: 825,000 (McGregor vs Mendes)
-Following months buyrate: 115,000 (Johnson vs Dodson II)
This was the height of Ronda Rousey’s powers. Rousey was being touted as a once in a lifetime athlete before this type of hyperbole became tiresome. The feud with Bethe Correia did not hurt the success of this show. In contrast to Correia, Rousey came across likeable (no really, she was the much more likeable fighter during this build).
– Opponent: Holly Holm
-Date: November 15, 2015
-Gate revenue: $6,800,000
-Previous months buyrate: 250,000 (Cormier vs Gustafsson)
–Following months buyrate: 1,025,000 (Aldo vs McGregor)
Rousey’s mystique may have died on this night, but her star power was strong as ever. In retrospect, it now seems obvious that the whole Rousey moment jumped the shark here. In between UFC 190 and 193 Rousey completed her transformation from star athlete to mainstream celebrity. Additionally, this fight created a star out of Rousey’s opponent.
-Opponent: Amanda Nunes
-Date: December 30, 2016
–Gate revenue: $4,750,000
-Previous months buyrate: 150,000 (Holloway vs Pettis)
-Following months buyrate: 200,000 (Holm vs de Randamie)
Ronda Rousey’s MMA farewell is the biggest indicator of her pay-per-view. After suffering her first defeat, refusing to address the loss, disappearing from competition for a year and being granted preferential pre-fight treatment, Rousey pulled in a cool 1,100,000 pay-per-view buys. This fight was promoted at the return of Rousey, and nothing else. Many (including yours truly) forecasted that this show would be a disappointment for the UFC. But Rousey was still at different level than the conventional fighter.