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In the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, the publication premiered “The Fame Index” that utilizes a formula that “combines athlete paychecks – salary and endorsements – with social media fan base and Google search popularity” to figure out who the top 50 famous athletes currently are.
The world of combat sports was represented well as a pair of boxers (Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao) along with a pair of UFC fighters (Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor) landed on the list. Rousey, McGregor, Mayweather and Pacquiao all fell in behind the top 10 list that was dominated mostly by soccer players and consisted of (in order) Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Roger Federer, Kevin Durant, Tiger Woods, James Rodriguez, Rafael Nadal and Kobe Bryant.
In what might be a bit of a surprise, Rousey was tops amongst the combat sports practitioners at No. 21 and the second highest ranked woman behind Maria Sharapova (No. 17). Even with her loss to Holly Holm, Rousey’s popularity has soared. Aside from being the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Rousey released a book, has several movies in queue and recently inked a three-movie deal with Lifetime to produce films about women’s empowerment.
Mayweather wasn’t too far behind Rousey at No. 25. Although Mayweather topped the Forbes’ “The World’s Highest Paid Celebrities” for 2015, his lack of activity (two fights) and the fact that he has zero sponsors likely hurt his standing on the list considering the formula that was used to rank the athletes. The man that provided the other half of last year’s blockbuster boxing event, Manny Pacquiao, comes in at No. 34.
Just a hair behind Pacquiao is the UFC featherweight champion McGregor at No. 36, whose sudden ascent over the past couple of years has showed no signs of slowing down despite being submitted by Nate Diaz last month and being pulled from UFC 200 after not participating in promotional obligations.
In addition to two boxers and two MMA fighters, the list features 13 soccer players, 12 NBA players, eight tennis players, five golfers, five football players and one representative from swimming, cricket and track and field.