Over the past few years, Ronda Rousey has become the biggest star in the history of women’s MMA while rapidly rising up the ranks as the most well-known fighter to compete in the UFC.
Rousey brought a level of attention to the women’s divisions that had never been paid before, but what happens now that she’s no longer champion? More importantly, what happens if Rousey never returns?
Recently retired UFC heavyweight and "Fighter and the Kid" host Brendan Schaub says the women’s divisions could be in trouble if Rousey decides to pack it up and call it a career following the second-round knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Australia.
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"What’s going to be interesting to see in the UFC — let’s just say Ronda was like ‘F–k this noise, I’m out, I’ve got so much money I’m Scrooge McDuck of girls’ so she peaces out, what happens to women’s MMA?" Schaub said when speaking on the Joe Rogan podcast this past weekend. "’Cause you can paint it how you want but Ronda made women’s MMA. She’s a superstar. There’s no other headliner like her."
To date, Rousey is the only women’s fighter in the UFC to headline a pay-per-view card multiple times and Schaub says she might be the last for a while if the former champion doesn’t come back anytime soon.
While the roster of women’s fighters continues to grow, Schaub doesn’t see another star even close to the level of what Rousey put together over the past two years she’s been in the UFC. Whether it’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Holm or even up-and-coming star Paige VanZant, he just doesn’t see a pay-per-view headliner among any of them right now.
"You can’t have Paige as a main event on a pay-per-view. Would never happen. That’s not a main event. It’s not going to sell pay-per-views. (Ronda) was a superstar since Day One," Schaub said.
"She’s not Ronda Rousey. (Paige) could be but right now if Ronda dips out, Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate is a co-main event. It’s a co-main event. There’s a dude as a main event, there’s no other girl right now who could carry a pay-per-view card. You’re bat s–t crazy. The UFC knows that."
Famed Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor Eddie Bravo responded by saying that Jedrzejczyk vs. VanZant absolutely would be a main event he’d pay to see, but Schaub countered by saying that’s "a Fight Night" main event.
Schaub doesn’t see highly touted featherweight Cris "Cyborg" Justino as the answer either, despite her impressive performances over the past decade. "Cyborg" burst onto the scene in 2009 after drubbing Gina Carano in one of the most talked about fights in the history of women’s MMA, but she’s never reached the same kind of status since.
Schaub just isn’t sure about the stability of women’s MMA if Rousey opts out following the loss to Holm.
"I’m just saying what Ronda did for the sport, there’s no one even close," Schaub stated. "Right now, every other girl’s a co-main event. I’m just saying women’s MMA, if Ronda peaces out, has a long way to go and ‘Cyborg’ isn’t your answer. If ‘Cyborg’ is your champ, it kills women’s MMA for a little bit and Holly doesn’t have the personality to carry the torch the way that Ronda does."