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Big UFC event at Dallas stadium makes for good quandaries

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Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Every now and again the UFC builds up a good enough head of steam to reopen talks of an event at AT&T Stadium in Dallas -- or, as it’s known in plebian culture, Jerry World. Though there’s much footsie going on under the table during such moments, these flirtations always end up turning somebody’s footballs Cowboy blue.

If history has shown us anything it’s that Dallas always becomes Vegas when you really get right down to it.

Yet after Ronda Rousey defeated Bethe Correia at UFC 190 and the numbers were "trending" into wild sectors of the imagination, so too went the idea that an event at the 100,000-plus capacity stadium was imminent. Never mind the opposition, Rousey’s star power has now reached mythological proportions. Now you’ve got celebrities swooning over Our Sport’s icon like she’s a modern day bogeyman, akin to a Medusa figure that shouldn’t be looked directly in the eyes. She’s the "it" thing in pop culture; the casuals are openly wondering how long their toughest friends might last in a locked cage with her. Like with Mike Tyson in the vicious 1980s, there’s always an overly philosophical person in the bunch who insists they could survive more than minute, so long as they dodge and run. This time it was Lolo Jones.

At the same time, there’s Conor McGregor, who at UFC 189 had the numbers popping off the charts as well. His upcoming featherweight title unification bout with Jose Aldo is considered by some the biggest fight in UFC history. Should the UFC book a fight card with McGregor and Rousey together, AT&T Stadium in Dallas might as well be the Roxy for The Rolling Stones. It’ll be packed tight enough to turn the fire marshal’s knuckles white.

And that’s exactly what Dana White says the UFC is looking at doing. Piling McGregor and Rousey under the same roof, and opening up that roof so that God can watch. Regardless of who Rousey is fighting -- in this case, the annuity known as Miesha Tate -- that’s big business. Any card even remotely near the orbit of December 5 (which is the date they’re gunning for) will be covered in soot from this mushroom cloud.

At that point all other events -- at least momentarily -- cease to be events.

Which begs the question: Is it a good idea to have both of your transcendent stars together, just as they reach such a level of transcendence? Dude. See, that’s the thing. I don’t know. I think so, but I can’t be sure. It feels stupid to say it’s a bad idea, but it feels gratuitous to go whole hog the other way.

The Irish firebrand McGregor can sell out Croke Park in Dublin fighting anybody, whether it’s Jose Aldo, Joe Duffy or Nik Lentz, doesn’t matter. And Rousey, who is all the awe right now, could sell out an ordinary NBA arena just doing an open workout. They are the biggest stars in the sport by gulfs and chasms. Condensing that star power for a single blowout card almost can’t help but diminish one or the other, right?

Somehow, that feels like it should matter.

For instance, who would headline? At UFC 189, McGregor and Aldo headlined above the welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler. As the Irish were quick to point out, it was "The McGregor Show," and everybody else was incidental. This included Aldo, who fell out in the last couple of weeks with a rib injury, and was replaced by Chad Mendes. It didn’t matter who McGregor was facing; he was the event.

McGregor as a co-main feels counterintuitive.

Then again, so does Rousey in that spot. Rousey’s stardom at this point is unparalleled in MMA. Brock Lesnar carried wrestling fans into the sphere of literal fighting, which was big for crossover intrigue. Rousey? Rousey translated the sport of MMA into a million languages. She’s a role model for girls, the envy of fellow athletes, the threat to male machismo, the inspiration for self-realization. Fighting is what she’s good at, but a byproduct of that is that she’s changing culture.

No, Rousey is a lot of things, but at this point a co-star isn’t one of them.  

So what would the UFC do? Which one do you admit is the lesser in this situation? Do you cough up all your charms in a single night? Or do you let them carry their own cards, individually, as the sport emerges from the gray plateau of previous years?

It’s a tough one. The MMA landscape changes so drastically every six months that a fête like this potential Dallas event may never come around again. After all, we’ve been talking about an event at Dallas Cowboys Stadium for years and nothing’s come of it yet. Here we are doing it again.

Does it happen? 

It’s wait and see, but if the only hang-up we have is deciding who should headline a million-watt mega-card, then we’ve officially -- and finally -- got the right kind of problems.