Ronda Rousey was handed her first career loss in the UFC on Saturday, a spectacle being called the biggest upset in UFC history. Holly Holm, a 19-time world boxing champion, had Rousey looking helpless, a position we’ve become accustomed to seeing Rousey’s opponents in, not Rousey herself.
Just days before the fight, Rousey was called the biggest lock in all of sports.
Which begs the question, was Ronda Rousey’s loss staged by the UFC?
In Rousey’s eight previous title fights, only one went past the first round. In fact, Rousey was able to finish five of those fights within the first minute. Rousey quickly became one of the most recognizable female athletes in all of sports. And while fans could do nothing but marvel at her mastery, the routine nature of her dominance also become her Achilles heel. Fans were losing the desire to buy her fights because she was too good.
Unlike athletes in other sports, fighters in the UFC don’t have a guaranteed salary; they are sole proprietors and are paid for their ability to sell a fight. The more attention they draw, the more people buy their fight.
Rousey getting knocked out in spectacular fashion has brought more attention to her than any victory she has ever had. And she’s about to get a massive payday because of it.
Un-coincidentally, UFC President Dana White announced shortly after the fight that a rematch is in order as soon as the former champ is ready.
So was the stunning knockout the biggest upset in UFC history? Or was it a business move that will bring both fighters the biggest paycheck of their career?