MMA observers might never know how effective an Olympic-tinged promo was for UFC 170, but according to UFC President Dana White, the recent event should be considered a success for women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who worried about pay-per-view numbers.
“If we did (just) 750 pay-per-view buys, it’s still the biggest women’s fight ever,” he said following this past Saturday’s event, which took place at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center. “And this gate is still a quarter-million dollars bigger than her last (headlining) gate.”
UFC 170 took in a reported $1.5 million at the box office, the promotion announced after the event. The privately-owned promotion doesn’t publicly disclose PPV numbers.
In the end, the lofty status given to the headliner didn’t make for a long fight. Rousey (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) dropped challenger and fellow Olympic medalist Sara McMann (7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) in the first round with a knee to notch her third consecutive UFC title defense.
Prior to the show, it wasn’t the UFC’s Olympic angle that prompted Rousey to share her worries about the success of UFC 170. She said it was the lack of time fans had to miss her since her previous appearance, which came this past December at UFC 168 against Miesha Tate and ended with another armbar victory for her impressive resume.
“I really haven’t given people a chance to miss me after two huge pay-per-views, the Super Bowl card and the New Year’s card,” Rousey said. “When I’m on as the headliner, all the pressure does fall on me to deliver.”
It is unknown whether Rousey directly benefits from the success of an event she headlines in the form of PPV “points,” though her comments certainly indicated she does.
She added that White told her not to worry about the numbers. After Saturday night, the UFC president was similarly reassuring.
“I think it’s awesome she feels that way,” White said. “Did you see the building tonight? Will Smith flew in here. Him and his wife flew in and wanted to meet Ronda. Tell me in the history of combat sports, two women headlining a card that did what tonight does.”
Rousey and McMann are, of course, the only Olympians on the UFC’s roster of female bantamweights. The promotion pushed that credential, though it incorrectly cited Rousey as the first woman to win Olympic medal in judo. She was, however, the first American woman to do so when she won bronze in judo at the 2008 Beijing Games (McMann took silver in freestyle wrestling at the 2004 Athens Games).
Prior to UFC 170, White said UFC 170 was on track to do a $2 million live gate. After the event, he reportedly looked at the $1.5 million figure and said, “Are you f–king kidding me?”
Reports will soon emerge about the event’s unofficial PPV numbers, but only time will tell whether White will repeat himself when he talks about them.
For complete coverage of UFC 170, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Dana White)