Ronda Rousey made the fight announcement herself on Good Morning America. Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a UFC 193 promo almost solely featuring Rousey last month. Rousey, it's being billed, is the one attempting to set the UFC's all-time attendance record.
Rousey, the UFC women's bantamweight champion, is undoubtedly the biggest star in the promotion. She's the poster girl, the one doing movies and Carl's Jr. commercials. The one hanging out with Serena Williams and having her words borrowed by Beyonce.
Rousey's prodigious success is the UFC's success. Whenever someone like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant tweets about Rousey, they are tweeting about the UFC.
So what does that mean for Holly Holm, the woman who might be flying a little close to the sun next month? Not a whole lot, it turns out.
"What promotion wouldn't want this unbeatable fighter?" Holm told MMA Fighting. "Muhammad Ali, the greatest of all time, he still got beat. What promotion wouldn't want this once-in-a-lifetime, unbeatable fighter? I do feel like they love that. Why wouldn't they? I would."
Holm is the one trying to beat the unbeatable fighter. Rousey hasn't just captured the imagination of the always-seemingly-out-of-reach mainstream. She's also backed it up in the Octagon as well as anyone ever. Rousey has finished her last three opponents in a combined 64 seconds. Only one woman has made it past the first round with her. And Miesha Tate still succumbed by armbar in the third.
Are UFC execs rooting for Rousey's incredibly dominant run to end? They would never admit that. But even Holm concedes that, well, maybe they should.
"Every body is saying she's been the most dominant female athlete, not just the most dominant female fighter, but athlete out of all sports," Holm said. "And she represents their company. So, why wouldn't they want well for her since she's done so well for them? That doesn't bother me at all, though."
Holm, 33, thinks very little about things like that. Actually, the aforementioned conundrum probably didn't even cross her mind until she was asked about it by a prodding reporter. Holm has at least one thing over all of Rousey's past opponents: more than a decade as a professional athlete in boxing and all that comes with it, mentally and emotionally.
"If I thought about every little situation or angle about how every body felt, I probably wouldn't sleep much," Holm said. "I just want to win the fight. I train to fight. I love to fight and I love to win. That is the bottom line. It doesn't matter who's sitting in which seat and who they're cheering for. I still want to win against the person across from me, whether it's in practice or in front of tons of people, whether I'm favored or whether I'm not favored. I just want to win."
Holm (9-0) didn't think she'd be next in line for Rousey. And she was surprised again when she was told the fight would be moved from January to November. Better off, though, Holm said. A slow, promotional crawl to the New Year's Eve card would have worn on even someone as mentally strong as she. Nov. 15, in Melbourne, Australia, was just the right amount of time to not get bogged down by complicated thoughts like the UFC's motives and intentions.
"All I know is the UFC has been great for me," she said. "I appreciate the opportunity and that they believe in me. As far as I'm concerned, I have the best deal in the world. They're letting me have this opportunity to fight the best female fighter out there and I appreciate them for that -- no matter what their motive or feelings are behind it. Or maybe there's none. Maybe they feel like this is just the next fight the fans want to see. They might be very neutral about it."
Rousey's ascent can only help the UFC. Rousey knows that and so does UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. The world's biggest MMA promotion wouldn't collapse if Rousey lost next month. Of course not. But with Rousey's sustained excellence comes dollar signs. Who doesn't like those?
"They want that and she has done well for them, so why wouldn't they want well for her?" Holm said. "That's their job. Their job is to put on the fights and I know they have favorites here and there, depending on what they are. I'm not gonna say that they're favoring her to win over me. That's not what I'm saying at all. Let's make that clear. But would they mind her being undefeated? Absolutely not. Why wouldn't they want that?"