When it comes to star power in the UFC, it’s hard to argue against the notion that interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor and women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey have become the two most recognizable faces in the promotion.
McGregor’s last fight against Chad Mendes at UFC 189 is rumored to have broken a million pay-per-view buys, which has only been done a handful of times in mixed martial arts history. Meanwhile, Rousey has become a household name with her fights as well as her appearances in films such as "Furious 7" and "Entourage".
She also appeared in World Wrestling Entertainment earlier this year as part of WrestleMania, and according to Google more searches were done for her name the day after the event than any other wrestler on the card.
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While Rousey has started to conquer other avenues away from fighting, such as acting or modeling with appearances in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, McGregor has stayed mostly focused on the fight game outside of some commercials, like his recent appearance for the "Game of War" series.
According to McGregor, he believes part of the reason why his fights generate so much interest is because there is still a real curiosity about how he matches up with the best fighters in the world. On the flip side, Rousey has already faced and dispatched virtually every contender in her division in record time, so it makes her fights have a different appeal.
"I believe in the male spectrum I’m dominating the game 100 percent. However, in the female aspect . . . She’s a dominant champion. It’s very hard for her because she is so dominant. There’s a lot of questions about me and I am thankful for all the questions that are being asked about me because that generates interest and that in turn generates revenue," McGregor told FOX Sports recently.
Ronda’s just so dominant and she’s slaughtering these women ruthlessly.
— Conor McGregor
"Whereas Ronda’s just so dominant, and she’s slaughtering these women ruthlessly and maybe that’s why people feel that way. Really, I feel we are — both of us are — at the top of the game. She’s a special athlete and I’m a big fan and always have been."
The question about who might be a bigger star between McGregor and Rousey is lost on the UFC women’s bantamweight champion because she believes the more attention the outspoken Irishman receives ultimately turns into attention for her as well.
The same can be said when Rousey is on television talking about the UFC and then those casual observers tune in to see what the hype is about when McGregor fights next as well.
"I don’t really think it’s a competition," Rousey said Wednesday. "I think we’re really helping each other out. The more successful (Conor) is and the more eyes on the sport means more eyes on me and vice versa. I hope that he’s as successful as possible because it benefits us both."
For all the harsh words McGregor has for just about every other fighter within his reach between multiple divisions, he’ll never say a bad word when it comes to Rousey.
McGregor believes that the work he’s doing alongside the women’s champion is raising the stakes even higher — and that means a bigger bottom line for both fighters when it comes time to get paid.
"The interest for her fights is absolutely phenomenal as well as mine now. I’m happy to be up there with Ronda running the game," McGregor said.
There’s little question now that McGregor and Rousey are the new faces of the UFC and when it comes to star power, those two are definitely at the front of the line.