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20th Sep 2017

UFC star nobly rejects biggest money fight available

Very big of her

Ben Kiely


There is a very obvious reason why 2017 has been considered a bad year for the UFC in terms of interest.

Aside from UFC 214, which was marred by Jon Jones’ failed drug test, the promotion’s numbered events this year have performed quite poorly when it came to PPV sales. There are a lot of factors contributing to the down year for the sport, but the main one is the lack of an attraction to draw the gaze of the people.

Jones is the only legitimate superstar to have competed inside the Octagon since January and after his latest controversy, it looks like he will be out of action for the foreseeable future. Only a select number of PPV bankers have consistently raked in buys north of the million mark, and Jones isn’t even one of them.

The likes of Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey are on a different level of the promotional game. They achieved the impressive feat of attracting a mainstream crowd to a traditionally very niche sport, and it’s fair to say their absence has been noticeable.

Suffering three-straight losses saw Holly Holm’s stock reduce significantly, to the point where her first crack at the women’s featherweight crown only drew a modest 200,000 buys. To put that into perspective, Rousey’s worst-performing PPV, her UFC 170 headliner against Sara McMann, sold around 340,000.

Since then, she hasn’t been involved in a card that did less than half a million, with her last two headliners surpassing the million mark and her UFC 190 main event against Bethe Correira slightly outperformed McGregor’s UFC 189 card with 900,000 buys.

Her return against Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 performing so well confirmed that “Rowdy” has that star quality that fans want to tune in for. The vast majority of female fighters on the UFC’s roster would jump at the chance of the huge payday that comes with welcoming her back to the Octagon because there isn’t really any other money fights in the current landscape of WMMA.

With coach Edmond Tarverdyan confirming that he would like to see Rousey return after suffering back-to-back brutal knockout losses that shattered the myth of her invincibility, one would expect the vultures to be circling. However, one warrior who has no interest in picking apart her carcass for the Almighty Dollar is UFC women’s featherweight queen Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino.

Cyborg took the high road, completely shutting down Tarverdyan’s brainless proposal. She showed real maturity in turning down a fight she had been campaigning for way before signing for the UFC. As she explained to MMA Fighting, she was only interested in fighting Rousey when she was sound of mind and considered the greatest female fighter on the planet.

“If Ronda wants to come back for a fight. I believe it’s better for her to fight Miesha Tate. I’m in another stage of my career. I wanted to fight Ronda when she was psychologically well and confident.”

Cyborg is eyeing up a title defence against Holm at UFC 219, but if Rousey really wanted to ‘fight’ her, she suggested a change of venue and discipline that may suit her a lot better, as she wrote on her official website.

“If Ronda is wanting to make the fight for the fans, I would still be willing to give them it, but I think it would be better to take place inside the WWE ring.”

A safer option for both parties. It makes sense as long as it doesn’t take Cyborg out of the cage for too long.