During a media luncheon at the UFC headquarters in Las Vegas on Thursday, UFC president Dana White stated that women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is the biggest star in the promotion’s history.
“She’s the biggest star we’ve ever had,” he declared, offering no qualifiers.
With past fighters such as Brock Lesnar, or ones that became household names like Chuck Liddell and Georges St-Pierre, at first glance White’s statement may seem inaccurate. To some the comments may even seem outlandish, but the UFC president is probably telling the truth. Rousey may not be as popular among hardcore fans as some other fighters, but her crossover appeal surpasses the others.
“The day the Olympics started, the number one trending was Ronda Rousey. Number one,” said White.
“She signed the movie with The Expendables. Then did Fast and Furious. Fast and Furious signed her up again after that. This movie hasn’t even gone out yet, and they signed her again,” added White. “Then she got a female lead in Entourage. Now Warner Brothers just bought a book for her. Warner Brothers bought a book for her to adapt into a screenplay that’s a Bourne-type character that she will play.”
Several fighters have starred in movies. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was cast as B.A. Baracus in the 2010 movie version of The A-Team. St-Pierre landed a major role as Batroc the Leaper in Captain American: The Winter Soldier, which is set to hit theaters in April.
“What I always tell these (expletive) guys when they talk about Hollywood. ‘Hollywood, Hollywood.’ When they bring these guys in they don’t pay them jack (expletive) for the movies. They don’t pay them anything to do these movies. They make way more money fighting. She’s getting to a point where her movie money is starting to get close to her (expletive) fight money, already,” said White.
The undefeated Rousey also filmed the eighteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2013.
“No guy that we’ve ever had has broken into movies or made as much money with sponsorship, movies or fighting, like Ronda Rousey has,” said White.
According to White, Rousey will break into the top ten of most money made in the UFC by a fighter following her next fight.
“She’s fought in the UFC twice. She’s going to fight again next weekend. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here, but I’m going to go out on a limb here, after this fight she’s going to break into the top ten most money made in the (expletive) UFC, after three fights. Her third fight she’s going to break into the top ten,” stated White.
Rousey faces fellow Olympic medalist Sara McMann in the UFC 170 main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Feb. 22, and White anticipates that she’ll draw high numbers.
“Ronda’s first fight was a (expletive) homerun. Her second fight was a (expletive) homerun, and so will her third fight,” he said.