When the Ultimate Fighting Championship booked Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, for Nov. 15, the promotion intended to break the all-time record for attendance at a UFC event.
Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler was expected to headline the fight card against Carlos Condit, but a thumb injury forced Lawler out of the bout. With Ehihad Stadium booked, the largest venue the fight promotion has ever held an event, company officials knew exactly who to call as a replacement to ensure that the previous attendance record would fall.
“When Robbie Lawler fell out (of the fight against Carlos Condit), we committed to doing a stadium event in Melbourne. We’re doing the biggest stadium we’ve ever done. When that fight fell out, I had to call my go to (Ronda Rousey), and she picked up the phone and said yes before I even asked what I needed,” said UFC president Dana White during the “Go Big” press conference.
Rousey headlines the fight card against undefeated former multiple division boxing champion Holly Holm. For the first time in the promotion’s history, two women’s fights will headline a pay-per-view event. Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk faces Valérie Létourneau in the co-main event.
Women’s MMA has reached unbelievable heights on the heels of Rousey’s popularity, and she’s confident that UFC 193 will set records.
“I’m really encouraged by the progress that we’ve seen (in women’s MMA). Dana went from saying that we’d never have women in the UFC, and now he’s entrusting us to break the gate record. I really think we’re capable of doing it,” said Rousey. “Seventy-what thousand? 75,000? Alright, let’s do it.”
Expectations of record attendance numbers and gate figures is a lot of weight on Rousey’s shoulders, but the Olympic medalist thrives under pressure.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but I’ve been able to accomplish things that seemed pretty impossible before, and this doesn’t seem like the most impossible endeavor that I’ve gone after. I think we’re entirely capable of doing that (setting the attendance record). I’m not done making history yet,” she said.
UFC 129 is the current holder of the UFC attendance record. Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre fought Jake Shields in April 2011 in front of 55,724 spectators inside the Roger’s Centre in Toronto. Etihad Stadium has a capacity of more than 70,000.