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Dana White’s no-lose bet with Ronda Rousey as UFC main eventer in Anaheim

By Zach Arnold | December 17, 2012

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So, the debate this weekend in media circles was about Dana White’s defense of Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche being booked for the main event slot of the UFC show this February at the Anaheim Pond (Honda Center). There really shouldn’t even be a debate.

Sure, I suppose you could have a debate in a Machiavellian kind of way if you think that Dana wants women’s MMA to tank, ergo Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche in the main event flopping would somehow serve his purposes of saying, “See, I told you women’s MMA in UFC wouldn’t work.”

However, that just doesn’t logically make sense from a current or historical perspective.

When Gary Shaw was promoting Gina Carano as his women’s ace, was he in the women’s MMA business or the Gina Carano business? He did pretty well with Gina as one of his top two aces (Kimbo Slice being the other ace). Gina drew plenty of eyeballs against female fighters who had lower media profiles. She saw her run end against Cyborg, but it was a hell of a run. You can’t say that the experiment was a failure. You can argue that the ceiling could have and should have been higher if Gina was more dedicated to training, but that’s about it.

Much in a similar vein to Gary Shaw with Gina Carano, Dana White sees Ronda Rousey as his vehicle to reach the masses who only care about Entertainment Tonight, Extra, The Insider, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, and random Youtube video clips where Rousey can make remarks about sex & testosterone and know that a billion people are going to talk about her comments. Rousey is completely shameless in the way she attracts what political pundits call ‘low information voters’ and she’s proud of it.

Appealing to the masses on a sleazy level works. It’s why Vince McMahon is still in business and it’s why Chael Sonnen still has PPV appeal.

So, why is there more heat on Dana White for promoting Ronda Rousey the way Gary Shaw would promote Gina Carano? Rousey’s a significantly better fighter & athlete. Combine that with the media buzz that Zuffa’s consumer behaviorologists in Las Vegas are focusing on and you have a pretty fail-safe combination here.

Does the success of Rousey given her tactics mean that I have to embrace her actions? Hell no. I largely find her schtick to be incredibly boring and mundane. However, I’m not the one that UFC is trying to target and get $60 out of to pay for a PPV. I’m going to watch the shows no matter what, anyways.

Other odds and ends from the weekend

The way FX handles the UFC B-level shows makes me scratch my head. Why did they decide to go live in all US time zones for The Smashes TUF Australia Finale but go West Coast delay for the US TUF 16 Finale show? That was a weird move. Plus, it turned out to be a brutal call given that you had two boxing fights going on HBO & Showtime at the same time.

Mike Goldberg’s performance on the TUF 16 Finale show was truly embarrassing. I’m not harsh on him like many other writers are but he should absolutely get called out for … whatever that was on display Saturday night.

Georges St. Pierre is a 4-to-1 favorite to beat Nick Diaz when they fight in Montreal this March. Talk about home cooking. Wonder how UFC feels now spending the capital they did to push GSP/Anderson Silva before GSP/Condit happened and during the PPV itself?

Am I in a bubble here or does it feel like the Junior dos Santos/Cain Velasquez fight coming up in Vegas has less buzz than the media campaign generated for St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit? I couldn’t avoid ads for GSP/Condit, even if I was on Yahoo or watching NBA games on television.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 25 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

25 Responses to “Dana White’s no-lose bet with Ronda Rousey as UFC main eventer in Anaheim”

  1. retzev says:

    For those of us that missed the show, what did Goldie do or say that he should be called out for? I didn’t get to see it, and I’m really curious.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Read the reaction to this. A starting point. MG had quite the night..

      • retzev says:

        Wow. Interesting, thanks.

      • Nepal says:

        I’m a huge non-Goldie fan and I noticed a lot of standard Goldieisms but none of them were any worse than his normal showings. Your twitter reference had one person saying his “embrace the grind” comment was off. That’s not much. I wonder what jumped out at you on this card??? You didn’t answer that.

        Actually virtually everything he says is off because everything he says sounds contrived and fake. I really can’t imagine why Dana keeps this guy around when the best thing anybody can say about him is “he’s such a lovable retard”.

        He is the worst commentator or whatever you call him in the entire sports world. I’m not saying that because I like to be mean, I really and truly believe he is the worst ever.

  2. david m says:

    Why would anyone think Cain has a shot to beat J2S? Last time I checked, he still has no chin, and is fighting the best HW boxer in mma who has a very stout chin, excellent takedown defense, and no discernible weaknesses. As I said before their first bout, J2S will win by KO. Those of you who ignored Kongo dropping Cain 3x are being willfully ignorant.

    As for why that bout isn’t getting near the hype of GSP v Diaz, besides the fact that Cain lost to J2S in like 60 seconds and hasn’t improved any since then, GSP and Diaz are both hugely charismatic, entertaining fighters who speak English and appeal to fans. J2S doesn’t speak English, and Cain has the charisma of a shoe. Diaz v GSP was the fight everyone wanted to see, and everyone still wants to see it.

    • Nepal says:

      Exactly. Cain’s stand up is bad. He would have lost to Kongo if Kongo didn’t have such a poor MMAIQ. I mean when you’re eating this guy for breakfast in the stand up and you then go for takedowns and keep losing the ground game. WTF are you thinking.

      JDS/Cain II will be just like JDS/Cain I.

  3. The Judge says:

    You make Ronda sound like a low-class act, shameless reaching out to “low information voters,” which I don’t see at all. Having a cute profile as the face of women’s MMA certainly does appeal to casual fans, but I think Ronda herself had much less to do with that than Showtime, Dana White and Sports Illustrated.
    And more than Entertainment Weekly fans, Ronda can appeal to new fans, who can turn (and a significant portion of whom probably will turn) into long-term serious MMA fans overall.
    Rousey vs Carmouche, like many other recent UFC main events comes from the “I will give the fans what’s available now, regardless of whether it’s second rate, rather than wait for a number one contender” mentality. Dos Santos vs Cain II, the unmaterialized Jones vs Henderson and Machida, and the materialized Jones vs Belfort and Sonnen, Aldo and Silva vs pretty much anybody.
    Unlike Vince McMahon, Kimbo Slice and the latest Tom Hanks movie, I think a genuine lover of the product would and should be interested in seeing Ronda Rousey perform.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    All they are doing with Ronda Rousey is trying to determine how much value she has on PPV.

    If she can turn the UFC Bantamweight Title into the equivalent of the HW, LHW, MW, & WW Titles, then she will be headlining every one of her fights on PPV.

    If she can’t…. And she does more of LW, FW, BW, & Fly PPV numbers…. Then she will be doing a combination of headlining and co-headling PPVs….. And doing some free FOX shows.

    This is all just trying to gauge the unknown.

    As for JDS/Cain…. There is no hype leading into the fight. It will do solid numbers but nothing blockbuster. Neither fighter really gets the fans interest. Being HW’s is what sells that fight.

  5. Columbo says:

    Goldie was hilarious on the last FOX show when he kept mentioning ‘changing of the guard.’ Some of the fights that made sense, but saying it for Nate Diaz vs. Benson? WTF?

  6. david m says:

    Mike Goldberg was no worse this show than usual. He is a nice guy, likes the sport, but always comes across as contrived and not particularly knowledgeable. He is still better than the favorite announcer of the puroresu geek fan club, Mauro Ranallo.

    • edub says:


      I’d also like to point out he obviously has to go over the top about everything he says because of the company he works for.

      Let’s not forget that whole Travis Lutter Michael Jordan of BJJ thing.

    • nottheface says:

      The Mauro that calls Strikeforce events? Yeah, you can argue Goldberg is better than him. The Mauro that’s been calling boxing for Showtime and CBS? Goldberg can’t touch that guy.

  7. The Judge says:

    Maybe I missed something, exactly what other options were there, aside from waiting for Santos to come around?
    All the other competitors, barring the impossible return of Corano, are equally big draws.
    Have her co-headline?
    UFC has given us less appealing solo main events recently.

  8. cutch says:

    “The way FX handles the UFC B-level shows makes me scratch my head. Why did they decide to go live in all US time zones for The Smashes TUF Australia Finale but go West Coast delay for the US TUF 16 Finale show? That was a weird move. Plus, it turned out to be a brutal call given that you had two boxing fights going on HBO & Showtime at the same time”

    I don’t think the tape delay hurt at all, the TUF finale was the joint second highest FX show (outside of a few PPV prelims)with 1.3 million according to MMAJunkie, that’s up 300,000 from the TUF Live finale and nearly 400,000 up from the FX show on Friday night.

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    I have never had a problem with Mike Goldberg…. But the last few shows I have heard him do…. Even I was thinking he was bad. He is sounding even more corny lately.

    If it keeps up, they should find a replacement.

    • Nepal says:

      “If it keeps up, they should find a replacement” If???

      Dude, you may not mind him and there are others that are not pissed off with him but still, there is a huge groundswell out there that can’t stand him, can’t figure out what he is doing with Zuffa and often find it challenging at best to even listen to a PPV broadcast.

      In fairness, if I listened to Mauro or The Voice as much as I listened to Goldberg, I would probably be sick of them too as they are a bit over the top. But Goldberg is 2 things. He is dumb and every single thing he says sounds fake and contrived. EVERY SINGLE THING HE SAYS!!!

      Get Cena to replace him and be done with it.

  10. 45 Huddle says:

    UFC has finally made Eddie Alvarez an offer. Rebney is saying they might be able to match it.

    I think Zuffa is going the Strikeforce route again…. Letting their competition sink themselves with bigger contracts.

    They did it when they let Dan Henderson sign with Strikefoce, despite being able to offer him more money.

    Get Bellator with a few contracts that start to break the bank slightly, and then the pressure comes on more to get in better ratings…. Slippery Slope without PPV…

    • frankp316 says:

      It’s funny to me how some fans still think Bellator is the little guy when they are now owned by Viacom which is a huge company. They are much bigger than Zuffa. Money will never be an issue for Bellator again. it just depends if Viacom thinks guys like Alvarez are worth the money. So this whole assumption that Zuffa can put Bellator out of business is baloney.

      As for Mike Goldberg, he’s so bad that UFC shows can be hard to watch. The worst thing isn’t that he’s stupid. The worst thing is that ridiculous sing song cadence of his voice that he constantly uses. it’s obviously something he learned years ago at broadcasting school and no one has bothered to tell him he would be a lot more effective if he used a more conversational tone. That’s why he sounds contrived all the time.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        They have a budget within Viacom, just like every other show or entity within the company. And once they are deemed to not be financially viable, they will be sold off very quickly. To say they basically have an open wallet ignores the reality of the very basic financial structure of these largest companies.

        TV Stations trying to buy stakes in sports organizations does not have a good history.

        Even the UFC doesn’t make a lot of money off its TV deal. It makes them some money and keeps them in the public eye. But the big rewards come from PPV. And Bellator will have one heck of a time trying to pull that off…

        I give it about 3 years before Bellator is done with. Either out of business or sold off. Which is about the same time period Strikeforce was on Showtime before they were sold off to Zuffa.

        Now that they are on SpikeTV, fighters will expect more money. They will constantly have to play the same game that Strikeforce played…. Which is either overpay for their talent, or lose it. And that is a dangerous game to be in when one of the companies has PPV Revenues and a $100 Million TV Contract and the other does not.

        Has the past not taught you anything? How many companies have to fall in MMA before people realize there is not enough room for multiple competitors long term…

        • frankp316 says:

          Viacom is not just any company. They didn’t buy Bellator to flip it. They bought it as content for Spike because MMA has been very successful on Spike in the past. But this time they have control over the product. I don’t expect them to spend money like drunken sailors. But they have a lot more money than Zuffa. So it’s not the same situation as Strikeforce or anyone else. They can have an open wallet if they choose. It’s a drop in the bucket for them. They don’t need Bellator to be profitable because they make plenty of money elsewhere. So stop talking about Bellator like they’re still a rinky dink outfit with a bad TV deal. It’s just not true anymore. And moving to Thursday night means they aren’t competing with anyone. And I don’t think their expectations are high. They will be satisfied if they hold on to a lot of the TNA Impact audience. And TNA is doing .9 these days.

  11. MMA Genius says:

    They don’t need Bellator to be profitable? What are they doing owning Bellator then? That’s what shareholders care about – net income. This isn’t Turner Broadcasting buying Jim Crockett because Ted Turner loves rasslin and is willing to eat money.

    Saying they don’t need Bellator to be profitable is the silliest damn thing I’ve ever heard. Do they take this approach with all of their properties? Does Jeff Probst have carte blanche to spend whatever he wants on Survivor? Or does he face a shrinking budget as his ratings decline?

    Viacom is going to operate Bellator the way the Kansas City Royals are run. On a shoestring budget and they’ll make a modest profit on it and maintain goodwill for Spike.

    There’s basically a ceiling on how much money you can generate in the promotion of MMA. It’s not the NFL, it’s not MLB, NBA, soccer, it’s not even tennis. It’s a small niche sport that stopped growing about six years ago.

  12. frankp316 says:

    I already said they are buying it for the content. But it’s a small investment for them that justifying it to anyone will never be an issue. It’s a loss leader. Besides, most TV shows, including Survivor, are owned by outside production companies. They can be cancelled at any time. It’s not the same relationship. My point is stop talking about Bellator like they are smaller than the UFC because they aren’t anymore. They can outspend Zuffa if they choose but they won’t.

  13. […] analyst Zach Arnold breaks down the case for what Rousey and the UFC are doing at Fight Opinion: Dana White sees Ronda Rousey as his vehicle to reach the masses who only care about Entertainment […]

  14. CindyL says:

    I find it amusing about the way the writer described the audience who plans to see Ronda Rousey at Honda Center. In fact, she is quite successful at catching the eyes of people who are both highbrow and lowbrow. She was on TMZ but yet she has been on the cover of mainstream sports magazines such as Black Belt, Oxygen, Sports Illustrated and ESPN. MMA is not exactly a sport like Judo and Karate. Fans have their own favourite characters and Ronda just happens to do well with her brand image by applying her armbar on opponents and her trash talks. It’s pure business. It is rather difficult for female fighters to promote themselves comparing to their male counterparts. It is not Ronda’s fault that male fans tend to be more reserved about WMMA.

  15. RST says:

    Gina Carano is a hell of a lot better looking then randy rousey.

    And Elite XC being somewhat of a punchline in the first place made that even more of an acceptable, even attractive bargain.

    I just dont see the appeal in this at all.

    But everything doesn’t have to cater to just me.



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