LOS ANGELES — The majority of the promos and commercials for UFC 207 are about 95 percent Ronda Rousey with perhaps a little Amanda Nunes sprinkled in. Nunes might be the women’s bantamweight champion, but Rousey, after all, is the huge mainstream star.
The discrepancy in attention has not gone unnoticed, though. Even by UFC employees. Longtime color commentate Joe Rogan made note of it on Twitter recently, calling it “extremely bizarre.”
Nunes has noticed, too, she said Thursday at a UFC 207 media lunch in Century City. It doesn’t necessarily bother her, but the Brazilian feels like she knows what’s going on. Nunes believes the UFC is trying to ease Rousey back after a year away and that devastating loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193.
After the UFC 205 weigh-ins, Rousey and Nunes faced off for the first time. Nunes said there was confusion then about which side of the stage she would be on and who would walk out first. Nunes ended up walking out last, which is typical of the champion.
“The UFC wants to make it easier for her,” Nunes said. “So she doesn’t feel like she’s not the champion anymore. They want to make her feel like that, that she’s not the second [to me]. They want to make me kind of the second to make her get stronger or something. I feel like they tried … to promote her so she can be strong and see that. Like Ronda, Ronda Ronda, Ronda. But she knows she’s the challenger; I’m the champion. Nobody can change it. Nobody can make Ronda the champion. She’s not the champion anymore.”
Nunes was making the media rounds Thursday in LA. The UFC flew her in for the lunch and for on-air television and radio spots. Rousey, a Los Angeles resident, has not done much media leading into UFC 207, which is Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. Aside from an appearance on “Conan” and a long interview with ESPN The Magazine, Rousey has tapered her promotional efforts quite a bit.
“I think the UFC is doing it for her,” Nunes said. “I think the UFC has been doing all the promos for her. I think she can do whatever she wants. This is a part of my job, meeting with you guys and talking. I’m here.”
Rousey, 29, is arguably the biggest mainstream star in UFC history, with multiple roles in feature films and countless commercials. She even hosted “Saturday Night Live” back in January. It’s obvious why the UFC is promoting her —and this fight — the way it is. Rousey is the recognizable name and her comeback from a second-round knockout to Holm is a big story.
The UFC also stands to make more money with a healthy Rousey as champion. When asked if Nunes believes the UFC is rooting for Rousey to beat her, she was honest.
“The way it looks, yes,” she said. “But nothing is gonna change it. I will be a champion. UFC is gonna promote myself after this fight.”
When the two faced off last month after UFC 205 weigh-ins, Rousey stormed off the stage before Rogan could interview her. Nunes called the whole situation “weird.” She also said Rousey unfollowed her on Instagram recently, which she found funny.
“I think if you don’t know how to take a loss, for sure, it’s gonna play with your head a little bit,” Nunes said. “I really don’t know what’s going on with Ronda right now. This whole thing, I really don’t know.”
Nunes, 28, speculates that the UFC sees Rousey is a bit fragile right now following the loss to Holm, which is why it is working to pump her up.
“They see that,” Nunes said. “UFC sees that. That’s why they do that. Because she needs like a push so she can come back. But with me, nothing is gonna change. I really am gonna do the thing that I’m training for. And I’ve been ready for this moment. Videos, talk, nothing is gonna change the thing I’m gonna do that night.”
The only thing Nunes can do is focus on herself. Not worry about who is getting featured more in ads and the like.
“Honestly, I’m OK with it,” Nunes said. “The only thing that I look for in my career is this thing right here — the belt. Be the champion. And whatever they want to do with Ronda, they can do. She promotes good. It’s gonna sell a lot of pay-per-views. This is the thing that I look for. It helps me at the same time.
“At the end of the day, I’m the champion. I’m gonna walk into the cage, take this fight and i’m gonna be champion for a little while.”