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Morning Report: Dana White says Ronda Rousey still the biggest star in UFC history

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Despite Conor McGregor's mammoth success, UFC President Dana White believes Ronda Rousey is still the biggest star in company history.

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It's been almost a year since Ronda Rousey last stepped foot in the Octagon. but despite that absence, UFC President Dana White is still singing her praises.

Recently, while doing promotion for the UFC's upcoming debut at Madison Square Garden in November, White spoke to Hot 97 where he fielded questions about Ronda Rousey and whether she was the biggest star in the history of the UFC.

"By far. Not even close, by far the biggest star ever."

While this isn't a new line for White, it is somewhat surprising he still holds to it after the year the UFC has had on the back of Conor McGregor. By most metrics, 2016 has been one of if not the most successful years in UFC history, and it also happens to be a year in which Rousey hasn't been present at all. Most of that is thanks to McGregor whose two fights with Nate Diaz drew over a million pay-per-view buys each, with their rematch at 202 possibly breaking the UFC pay-per-view record.

For reference, Rousey has only cleared the million buy rate twice, her most recent fight against Holly Holm and her second fight with Miesha Tate which was the co-main event behind the Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman rematch. Her fight against Bethe Correia at UFC 190 did garner an estimated 900,000 buys though, and it's this fight which seems to hold specific sway over White.

"Ronda Rousey is such a big star that when you go down to Brazil - I don't know if you guys have watched any of the fights we do from Brazil — they don't care who you are. They want the Brazilian to whoop your ass. When Ronda went down there, they cheered for Ronda over the Brazilian. Never seen that before in my life and will probably never see it again. That's how big Ronda Rousey is."

Now of course, pay-per-view buys and event gates aren't the only way to measure star power. Rousey has not only headlined UFC pay-per-views, but appeared at Wrestlemania and starred in movies, landing roles in the Fast and Furious franchise, the Entourage movie, and the leading role in the upcoming Road House remake. Rousey's pay-per-view buy rates had also been trending upwards before her loss so it's possible the Rousey comeback fight will do enormously well for the UFC whenever it happens.Then of course, there's the long sought after Rousey superfight with Cris Cyborg, which White says Rousey wants but that first she wants to get her belt back.

But to get her belt back, Rousey has to actually return to fighting and there is still no timetable for her return. The long duration of her absence and well documented struggles in dealing with her first professional loss have even led many to question whether she actually will ever return, and if so, why it has taken so long. White says Rousey will be coming back and took the time off because the stress of her workload had gotten to her.

"The truth with Ronda is this: Ronda Rousey worked her ass off for four years. She worked hard. All the time she fought, all the PR that she did for us, and more importantly the training. The training takes a lot out of you. And after the loss she said, 'I need a break. I need time off.' And the minute anybody says that in this business...you don't do that in this sport. Your head has to be in this game 24-7 and you've got to be a killer. The minute you think you need a break, you definitely need a break."

Rumors have been circulating that she is currently back and training for a bantamweight title shot against champion Amanda Nunes at the end of the year show but nothing has been confirmed so far. But even if she does come back and regain her title, she'll have to do quite a lot to beat the pay-per-view buy rate of UFC 205 and McGregor challenging for his second world title against lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

Maybe a Cyborg fight would do it.

Here's the full interview.

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EXTRA CREDIT READING

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Bushido.

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TWEETS

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So Leben didn't get one of the Zuffa retirement plans where you get an office job.

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Seemed appropriate considering the extra credit today.

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Got some new ink today by John at Culture Shock in Valpo #tattoos #tattoo @lyonking4713

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Conor's BJJ partner/coach won double golds this weekend.

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Shouldn't have taken the fight.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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Lukasz Sajewski (13-2-0) vs. Marc Diakiese (9-0-0)UFC 204, October 8.

Mirsad Bektic (10-0-0) vs. Arnold Allen (11-1-0); UFC 204, October 8.

Erick Montano (7-4-0) vs. Max Griffin (12-3-0); UFC Fight Night 98, November 5.

Teruto Ishihara (9-2-2) vs. Artem Lobov (12-12-1); UFC Fight Night 99, November 19.

Ryan Bader (21-5-0) vs. Antonio Rogerio Noguiera (22-7-0); UFC Fight Night 100, November 19.

Francimar Barroso (18-5-0) vs. Darren Stewart (7-0-0); UFC Fight Night 100, November 19.

Jake Matthews (10-2-0) vs. Andrew Holbrook (11-1-0); UFC Fight Night 101, November 27.

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2005: Jon Fitch made his UFC debut, defeating Brock Larson by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 2. Thiago Alvesalso made his UFC debut this night, submitting to a triangle choke from Spencer Fisher. The main even that night sawDavid Loiseau earn a victory over Evan Tanner via doctor stoppage to land a shot at the UFC middleweight championship.

2015: Daniel Cormier made the first successful title defense of his UFC light heavyweight championship when he won a split decision over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192. This event also saw the UFC debut of Sage Northcutt who won stopped Francisco Trevino with elbows in 57 seconds.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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John Lineker has the best chin in MMA history. He has taken mammoth shots from the biggest hitters in his division and they have all the effect of raindrops bouncing off a windshield. Dodson hit him with three different head kicks and a couple of left hooks that would have put any other 135-pounder on skates and Lineker barely blinked.

You can keep your prime Mark Hunt, Carlos Condit, Roy Nelson, or whoever else. Give me John Lineker's chin any day of the week.

It's here folks. The title shot we campaigned for in spite of meritocracy or reason: Bisping-Hendo 2. I, for one, am pumped. Either Michael Bisping defends the UFC middleweight championship in Manchester or Dan Henderson gives us the single greatest story in the history of MMA. This is going to be great.

Have a great one and see you tomorrow.

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If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.