The numbers don't lie.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicked off its 2014 fight campaign with a pair of numbered pay-per-view (PPV) events taking place within three weeks of one another. UFC 169, headlined by a championship doubleheader featuring Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber (bantamweight) and Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas (featherweight).
The estimated PPV buy rate was around 230,000.
UFC 170, by contrast, garnered 340,000 PPV buys with a main event pitting Ronda Rousey against Sara McMann, a 135-pound title fight that saw "Rowdy" drop and stop her fellow Olympian inside the first round. The co-main event featured Daniel Cormier's shellacking of Patrick Cummins.
Dave Meltzer provides context:
That's down from Rousey's first main event, one year earlier, with Liz Carmouche. But the drop is hardly unexpected. The promotion of the Carmouche fight, the first women's fight ever in the UFC, was among the best in company history. There was both among the most media coverage leading to a UFC fight in history, combined with a stirring Prime Time shows focusing on the two women leading to the fight.
The McMann fight did have a hook, the first time two Olympic medal winners had ever faced off in a UFC fight. And it took place the week of the Olympics. But that didn't get anywhere near the kind of media attention the fight a year earlier got. A lot had to do with Carmouche, who promoted the fight much harder than McMann. In the arena for both fights, Carmouche was clearly a far bigger "B side" star in the fight, regardless of McMann's wrestling credentials and undefeated status coming in.
UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" topped the 400,000 mark.
It will be interesting to see how the UFC 171 event -- featuring Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler for the vacant 170-pound title -- factors into this equation. What we do know is that UFC President Dana White wasn't exaggerating when he said Rousey was a star.
Which is all the more reason why she may not stick around.