No matter how big of a star Conor McGregor has become, nobody is larger in stature than Ronda Rousey, according to UFC president Dana White.
White made it clear that there is nobody in the UFC that is as big as Rousey in an interview with Hot 97 when he spoke on the current state of the MMA promotion.
“By far. Not even close, by far the biggest star ever,” White said.
It’s an interesting statement by White considering that Conor McGregor has shown tremendous crossover appeal that has turned in massive PPV returns in Rousey’s absence. The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion hasn’t fought since being knocked out by Holly Holm last November. Since then, McGregor has become the hottest ticket in the sport.
As the headliner, McGregor’s last three pay-per-views have eclipsed the million-buy mark and he’ll once again headline what is arguably the biggest card in UFC history when he faces Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 when the promotion finally debuts in New York. Rousey has only managed to hit the million mark twice, once in her fight against Holm and the other time when she was the co-main event against Miesha Tate at UFC 168 (headlined by the highly anticipated rematch between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman).
Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny the attention that Rousey has brought to the sport. Aside from fighting, Rousey has appeared in several films, wrote a book and even showed up at Wrestlemania. But, according to White, one of the more telling signs that Rousey is the biggest star in the history of the sport was when she faced Bethe Correia in Brazil.
“Ronda Rousey is such a big star that when you go down to Brazil – I don’t know if you guys have watched any of the fights we do from Brazil — they don’t care who you are. They want the Brazilian to whoop your ass,” White said. “When Ronda went down there, they cheered for Ronda over the Brazilian. Never seen that before in my life and will probably never see it again. That’s how big Ronda Rousey is.”
There still is no word on when Rousey will return but there have been teases of a potential superfight with Cris Cyborg that would rake in huge numbers. However, White is mum on when we’ll see Rousey in the Octagon again.
“The truth with Ronda is this: Ronda Rousey worked her ass off for four years,” White said. “She worked hard. All the time she fought, all the PR that she did for us, and more importantly the training. The training takes a lot out of you. And after the loss she said, ‘I need a break. I need time off.’ And the minute anybody says that in this business…you don’t do that in this sport. Your head has to be in this game 24-7 and you’ve got to be a killer. The minute you think you need a break, you definitely need a break.”