Ronda Rousey is set to defend her newly minted UFC women's bantamweight championship against Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157. The UFC is taking a gamble by making her the top bill, but the risk is certainly worth the reward.
The UFC has already lessened the risk of having her headline UFC 157. They have littered the card with fantastic fights. Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida meet in a big co-main event and Urijah Faber is on the card to boot.
She is not carrying this card alone, but she is the big name on the poster.
What’s the worst that can happen? Rousey, and subsequently the entire division, could fail. That would be unfortunate, but the UFC is in a position to risk that. They will only be out a small amount of money.
If she were to fail, then there could be a black eye, not to the UFC but to women’s MMA in general. The UFC can easily spin it in the public relations room. They can take the stance that they gave it a shot on the big stage, and it simply is not ready.
The risk for them is small. Very small.
What about the reward?
Rousey could be the next superstar.
She is undoubtedly already a star. Rousey has graced multiple magazine covers, has been on numerous podcasts and shows, and is frequently sought after for appearances. She is on the precipice of becoming a massive star for the sport.
Having her under the UFC banner can be huge for the company.
She speaks well. She fights even better. She can help sell the UFC brand.
Rousey is on the brink of becoming a transcendent star. If she can break out in to the mainstream, it will pay dividends for her, and also the UFC. Her pay-per-view fights will suddenly become financial windfalls. They will be can’t-miss.
This first PPV event will be telling. With a big main event and other significant names on the card, everyone will eagerly anticipate the numbers of the event. Media will have their fingertips on their keyboards waiting to call it a success or failure immediately, but this is only the beginning.
This will merely tell the UFC where they are starting from. They see the upside to Rousey being on their roster already.
The UFC will give her the platform to shine. They will be there to help her with anything she needs to succeed. Rousey’s success will also be a success for all of women’s MMA. That is where the UFC could really benefit.
If she can put women’s MMA on the map on the biggest stage and make it a success, the UFC will see benefits for years to come. Years down the line, the UFC could owe Rousey a big debt of gratitude.
When the risk is this minimal, and the potential reward this big, the UFC has the easy choice to take the gamble. Rousey is not a sure thing, but she is just about the closest thing there is to it.