Mixed Martial Arts - Rousey taking a cash course in UFC

Ronda Rousey's dive into the UFC is translating into a major monetary splash.

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Mixed Martial Arts - Rousey taking a cash course in UFC
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Ronda Rousey

Rousey has fought nine mixed martial arts fights, six as a pro and three as an amateur. All nine have ended in the first round with the same move.

Rousey's signature arm bar has become the sport's most dominant finishing move. Her coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, laughed off the notion that she might be a one-trick pony.

If Liz Carmouche, Rousey's opponent Saturday in the main event of UFC 157 at what for one night will change from the Honda Center to the Ronda Center, can avoid the arm bar, Rousey's chance to win won't diminish, Tarverdyan said.

"I'll be honest with you," Tarverdyan said after Rousey completed a workout at the Glendale Fight Club, "I'd rather see her finish her career with all first-round arm bars. That would mean the chance of her getting hurt would be way less. I would like it that way.

"But Ronda is way more than an arm bar [specialist], way more. She has great hands. Her striking is improved so much. People say she is all about the arm bar, and that's a great move for her. But there's way more to her than that."

She's already established herself as a star even before her UFC debut. She's been in tremendous demand from the media and has handled a killer schedule magnificently. She's awakened as early as 4 a.m. to do media appearances, and she's not only done them all – she's done them exceptionally well.

She's been glib, colourful and passionate, and the media has eaten it up. UFC president Dana White said no fighter has ever been in as much demand as Rousey.

"What she's done blows what [ex-UFC fighter] Brock [Lesnar] did out of the water," White said of media requests.

White took the podium at the start of the UFC 157 news conference Thursday and all but stuck his tongue out at the media.

White takes criticism, real or imagined, very personally, and questions about whether the public would buy a main event between two women rankled him.

It was White who decided in December to name Rousey his women's bantamweight champion and have her defend the belt in the main event.

He said Thursday that he expected the Honda Center to be sold out. On Friday, he said the paid gate had already surpassed $1.4 million. The last event in the Honda Center, the heavyweight title match between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez at UFC on Fox 1 on November 12, 2011, did a $1.1 million gate.

White never talks about pay-per-view sales, though he said Thursday early trends are better than most anticipated.

The vast majority, probably more than 90 per cent, of all pay-per-view buys come on the day of the event, so it is not really possible to gauge with any accuracy how the show will do.

Other trends, though, suggest it could get as high as 400,000. White wouldn't say, but he did give a big "I told you so" lecture to the media at the start of Thursday's news conference.

"There was a lot of smack talk originally when I announced this fight about headlining with two women," White said. "Again, I said what would happen and here we are. This gate is bigger and there has been all this talk about pay-per-view buys and wondering how the women would do. I just talked to [UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] and this fight is trending very well. All the naysayers and everybody who said this and that about two women headlining a fight, I won't be rude, but you know what I usually say about this."

Depending on the results of the pay-per-view, Rousey could earn more than any women's fighter ever has made in one match. She is guaranteed $45,000 to show and will be paid $45,000 to win, but she'll also garner some of the pay-per-view proceeds.

What she'll make from that is unknown, because the UFC doesn't release pay-per-view buys or contract details, but its offer to free-agent fighter Eddie Alvarez is at least a starting point.

The UFC offered Alvarez $1 per pay-per-view for every buy between 200,000 and 400,000. It increased to $2 per buy between 400,000 and 600,000, and $2.50 for each buy over 600,000. The UFC's offer to Alvarez became public in a lawsuit between Alvarez and the Bellator Fighting Championship.

Rousey is a champion and likely has a more favourable deal than the one UFC offered Alvarez, but the Alvarez offer at least gives an indication of the kind of money she might make.

If the fight does 400,000 sales, which is looking increasingly possible, Rousey would make at least $290,000 if she wins. That would not include any potential fight night bonuses the UFC hands out, such as Knockout of the Night, Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night, which are each typically in the $70,000 range.

It also doesn't include discretionary bonuses that management gives fighters.

It's a long way from what the top male fighters like Georges St-Pierre earn, but it's a starting point.

And thanks to Rousey's popularity – she was swarmed by fans and media Wednesday at an open workout in Torrance – other women will have the opportunity to do the same.

The Rousey Era is officially set to begin. For that, all female fighters should be thankful, even if they don't much like her.

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