Even though Ronda Rousey had already spent the last year of her Strikeforce career turning heads in the sports world, many questioned how she would perform on a UFC pay-per-view.
Apparently, she's on track to be one of the company's biggest stars.
While the official numbers aren't likely to be released by parent company Zuffa, the Los Angeles Times reports that UFC 157 expects to pull 500,000 pay-per-view buys:
While UFC officials don’t publicly share their pay-per-view totals, an official with knowledge of the figures said with replay sales, Rousey’s first-round armbar submission of Liz Carmouche could near 500,000 buys.Should those numbers hold up, that would be a slam dunk for the UFC and Rousey.
That number is far and away better than the prior pay-per-view record for a female [boxing] fight which pitted the daughters of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier [against each other] and generated 125,000 buys.
According to the MMAPayout.com Blue Book, that makes UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche the sixth-best mixed martial arts PPV event in the last year.
In fact, Rousey's debut title fight seems to have commanded better drawing power than cards headlined by the likes of Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson, Nick Diaz, Jon Jones and even Anderson Silva:
• UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II - 925,000Numbers like these should go a long way to solidifying Rousey as one of the UFC's most important stars, with her fame even drawing the attention of Hollywood.
• UFC 154: GSP vs. Condit - 700,000
• UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans - 700,000
• UFC 155: JDS vs. Velasquez II - 590,000
• UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir - 560,000
• UFC 157: Rousey vs Carmouche - 450,000 to 500,000
• UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - 450,000
• UFC 143: Condit vs. Diaz - 400,000
• UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar - 410,000
• UFC 156: Aldo vs Edgar - 330,000
• UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - 325,000
• UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao - 230,000
• UFC 150: Henderson v. Edgar II - 190,000
• UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin II - 140,000
• UFC 151: Jones vs. Henderson - Canceled
As noted by industry insider Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio (via Bloody Elbow), Rousey is in talks for a role in the next installment of the Hunger Games film franchise, which stars Oscar Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence.
Few fighters have the crossover success that Rousey has gained, so the news isn't a major surprise, although UFC president Dana White insists that the champion would still make far more money in the Octagon.
Moreover, Rousey's career trajectory mirrors that of current Hollywood star and former Strikeforce headliner Gina Carano, who successfully transitioned to full-time acting with a leading role in Steven Soderbergh's 2011 action-thriller Haywire.
Of course, the success of UFC 157 isn't solely due to Ronda alone, with co-headliners Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida contributing to the hype in their title eliminator match, in addition to a main card appearance from former WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber.
Additionally, the UFC and Fox also instituted an exceptionally heavy marketing push for their first-ever women's bout, including an extensive media blitz, a UFC Countdown special and a critically-acclaimed four-part edition of UFC Primetime starring both Rousey and Liz Carmouche.
McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and tech writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld, PC World, 1UP, NVision, The Los Angeles Times, FightFans Radio, MMA Mania and Bleacher Report. Talk with him on Twitter.