The destinies of Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman seem to be intertwined at the moment, with both being thrown into the fire this upcoming weekend at UFC 175. Both are UFC Champions during what should be considered a tumultuous time for the sport and the organization, with viewership declining and interest falling off steadily. UFC 174’s buyrate is still an unknown, with the only knowledge of it being that it was most likely less than Bellator’s recent PPV event and one of the UFC’s lowest since the TUF-era boom.
UFC 175 will see both Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey touted as stars, with both fighters, along with Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, being the company’s golden children for the time being. Both Rousey and Weidman were headliners for UFC 168 in December, an event that saw the UFC’s last truly impressive PPV number after months of stagnation and declining buyrates. Even Rousey on her own was unable to move the needle for fans, with estimates pointing at sub-400,000 buys for the event.
Maybe the pairing of Weidman and Rousey will help to usher in a new golden period for the UFC, create those two new stars that they’ve been waiting for. The UFC’s official narrative is that Ronda Rousey is the UFC’s biggest star to date, which might ring true if it comes to media appearances, but it hasn’t translated into money for the UFC just yet. Weidman on the other hand has yet to headline an event on PPV without the legendary Anderson Silva standing across the ring from him.
UFC 168 was able to top 1 million PPV buys, but the question in the air is; why? Was it because of Anderson Silva? Was it because of Anderson Silva rematching Chris Weidman? Was it because of Weidman/Anderson with Ronda Rousey as support? It feels like the UFC is throwing darts at a wall at this point with their decision making, hoping that something will finally work out. Maybe it was having a “stacked” card with two bigger title fights, maybe that will work for UFC 175.
UFC 175 is a chance for both to not only prove themselves in the ring, but to prove themselves as legitimate stars and champions. They’ll have to do it without the help of Anderson Silva, though, which should make this a lot more interesting. Of course, there seems to be a total lack of interest leading into this weekend right now, pointing towards a disappointing to average number of buys, but stranger things have happened. Fans can speak with their money and while the winner will be champion, who the UFC decides to push as their big star has everything to do with pulling in that money.