The absence of Ronda Rousey has certainly been felt by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Outside of Conor McGregor, and Brock Lesnar every five years, the former women's Bantamweight champion is the biggest pay-per-view (PPV) draw in mixed martial arts (MMA) today. Hate her or love her, fans tune in to see Rousey step inside of the Octagon.
Since losing her title to Holly Holm back at UFC 193 via second-round knockout, Rousey has not made her return to the cage. In her absence, McGregor has carried the promotional torch with ginormous PPV events like UFC 194, UFC 196 and most recently UFC 202. All three of those cards did well over 1,000,000 PPV buys with UFC 202 reportedly doing 1.5 million. Still, UFC president Dana White believes that Rousey will take over where she left off, use her return as a way to create buzz and even surpass the numbers that "Notorious" has posted over the past nine months.
Yes," said White on a recent edition of "The Herd" when asked about Rousey's PPV potential (h/t MMA Junkie). "I think that Ronda Rousey's return will be the biggest pay-per-view we've ever done."
"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."
Obviously White is going to promote Rousey's return to high heaven, especially since she's no longer champion. But when you consider that Rousey's biggest PPV showing was 1.1 million buys for UFC 193, it's difficult to believe she'll surpass McGregor after sitting on the sidelines for over one year. Add in the fact that Rousey will be returning to compete against the likes of either champion Amanda Nunes, top contender Valentina Shevchenko or TUF winner Julianna Pena, and it becomes apparent that she'll be fighting an uphill battle to promote a title fight that doesn't involve Holm or Miesha Tate.
Stick with Mania as more Rousey news and coverage becomes available.