Conor McGregor may wear the crown as the UFC’s current pay-per-view king, but UFC president Dana White believes that the Irishman may simply be keeping the throne warm for a certain woman’s highly anticipated return to the Octagon.
White appeared on “The Herd” and stated that Ronda Rousey’s return would topple all UFC pay-per-view records set by McGregor, including his UFC 196 fight with Nate Diaz that raked in 1.5 million PPV buys and what appears to be yet another a million-plus buys estimated for UFC 202, where McGregor defeated Diaz by majority decision.
“I think that Ronda Rousey’s return will be the biggest pay-per-view we’ve ever done,” White said.
Despite being a huge star with crossover appeal, Rousey had only eclipsed the one million pay-per-view buy mark once as a headliner during her UFC tenure. And that particular fight was her shocking knockout loss to Holly Holm last November at UFC 193. Up until that point, Rousey was deemed as unbeatable by many and became must-see television whenever she fought. With each fight, her legend grew and the gap appeared to grow wider between her and the rest of the women’s bantamweight division. According to SportsBook Review, Rousey’s veil of invincibility was a huge factor during her rise as she was a heavy favorite in each of her UFC fights. Heading into the fight with Holm, Rousey was a -1250.
Her dominance in the Octagon led to roles in TV and film. But just as she appeared to peak as a mainstream superstar, she suffered the first loss of her MMA career against Holm and hasn’t been back in the Octagon since.
There was initially hope that Rousey would return in time for the UFC’s first event in New York at UFC 205 on November 12. However, White stated under no uncertain terms that Rousey would not be available to compete. She has reportedly been healing from a number of minor surgeries in preparation for her return. It’s likely that Rousey will return early in 2017 and White is optimistic that she’ll shatter the PPV numbers set by McGregor, UFC 100 and UFC 200.
“If you had told me 15 years ago that women would be fighting in the UFC – and if you told me that women would be as technically sound as the men and the fights would be loved by millions of people all over the world and it’d be the hottest thing going on in the UFC – I would have never believed it,” White said.
White had promised that Rousey would be immediately thrust into a title fight upon her return. Since her loss, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion has belonged to three different women (Holm, Miesha Tate and the current champion, Amanda Nunes).