McGregor, Rousey, UFC dropping the ball
By David Estrada
The News MMA columnist
Mixed martial arts had the grandest one-month period in its history recently. But the world’s biggest MMA promotion that made it happen blew it on the follow-up.
It all started on July 7 with the UFC’s International Fight Week that featured a UFC Fan Expo and appearances by a who’s-who of MMA’s brightest stars. The event brought people from around the world to Las Vegas.
The week climaxed with the most-watched MMA pay-per-view in over 1 1/2 years. On July 11, UFC 189 showcased the much-hyped Conor McGregor against Chad Mendes, which led to over 800,000 pay-per-view buys, the most since the million-selling December 2013 UFC 168 Chris Weidman vs. Anderson “The Spider” Silva rematch.
UFC 189 delivered one of the most thrilling cards in UFC history. To top it off, McGregor proved his worth by besting the higher-ranked No. 1 featherweight contender, Mendes. The Irishman earned the interim UFC featherweight title as his original opponent and current UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, was sidelined with a rib injury.
A bonafide superstar was made with McGregor. What man could possibly top him? The answer is no man — a woman.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, the UFC and Hollywood ultra-star, topped McGregor and UFC 189. Mainly on her name alone, Rousey carried the Aug. 1 UFC 190 card to roughly 900,000 pay-per-view buys.
Her UFC 190 matchup was to be one of her toughest to date. Not only did the UFC women’s bantamweight champion have to face well-rounded Bethe Correia, she had to fight her in her home country of Brazil. Ronda defeated Correia quickly, faster than Mike Tyson-fast with a knockout just 34 seconds into the bout.
What was poignant about the Rousey victory is that she went into the bout, dedicating it to former WWF star “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, who has passed away the day before her bout. Piper befriended Rousey early in her career and gave her permission to use the “Rowdy” nickname.
The UFC holds two aces in their hand with an Aldo vs. McGregor title consolidation bout and Rousey vs. anyone.
For years there’s been chatter about the UFC holding a mega-event at the most magnificent stadium in the USA – AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
In the post-UFC 190 press conference, UFC President Dana White stated he’d “absolutely consider” putting Rousey on the same card as Aldo-McGregor. He expanded on that later stating: “That card is probably going to be in Dallas, Texas Stadium.” He stated they were working on it for a December 2015 date.
Sadly, for the advancement of the sport and to the disappointment of Texas UFC fans, Dana White recently stated the Aldo-McGregor bout is now slated to be held in Las Vegas on Dec. 12. Rousey’s next bout will also be held in Las Vegas, but at an undetermined date.
An Aldo-McGregor main event and Rousey vs. whomever on a stadium card would have thrusted the sport to new levels. It could have been akin to the WWF’s WrestleMania III that put entertainment wrestling on the mainstream map with bouts featuring Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and the aforementioned late Piper.
It may have even been a draw to the level of boxing’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao bout, but without the disappointing lack of action.
It’s unclear why the UFC failed to deliver with the stadium show. Perhaps logistics was a factor; Dana White had mentioned it is easier to put on shows in Vegas.
Whatever the reason fans will still have two separate events to look forward to. However, one cannot help but think, “What if?”
David Estrada Jr. can be reached at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com