LAS VEGAS — The UFC’s year-end shows are traditionally among the biggest events the promotion holds, and UFC 207 looked to be no exception. But the much-anticipated return of Ronda Rousey against UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes on Dec. 30 has been unlike any other big UFC event before it, as Rousey has refused to engage in virtually any pre-fight media in the weeks leading up to the pay-per-view.
That’s meant no pre-fight press conference, interviews, or open workouts for Rousey before UFC 207 — a concession the UFC has never given to any other pay-per-view headliner in the promotion’s history. On Wednesday, UFC president Dana White said the situation is a “one-and-done,” and is one that will likely never be repeated again.
“Listen, Ronda has given more than anybody,” White told the media in Las Vegas. “If you look at the amount of press that’s been done by any fighter in the UFC in UFC history, Ronda smokes everybody by a long shot. And this is the way she wanted it. The only thing she cares about right now is focusing on winning. So, she’s done a lot of things for this company. I say it all the time, about Conor (McGregor) too — Ronda’s done a lot of things for us. This is what she wanted, so I gave it to her.”
Since Rousey’s dramatic loss to Holly Holm in Nov. 2015, speculation about her return has swirled throughout the fight world. The prevailing thought about her evntual comeback was that it would be one of the best-selling shows the UFC has ever held. But now that it is finally here, that assumption is less certain, as Rousey’s media blackout has coupled with the fact that UFC 207 will be held on a Friday night, rather that the traditional Saturday.
While there is no way to know for certain, those two factors could lead to diminished pay-per-view buy-rate, and White admitted that the situation has been a frustrating one.
“It’s definitely not ideal,” White said. “It’s what she asked for, and like I said, back in the day, Ronda would literally do anything we asked her to do. Anything. And if the guys wouldn’t do something, she would pick up the ball and do it herself. So for her to ask for something like this, how can I say no to that? She’s done a lot.
“There are a lot of things that suck about this, yeah,” White added. “We’re in a pretty crazy position, but she’s one of the greatest ever to do it. She’s done a lot for this company. She’s done a lot for the sport. She’s done a lot for women in this sport, and this is what she asked for. She’s never asked for much. She asked for this and we said yes.”
White said that he was “assuming” Rousey will speak to the media after UFC 207, but that he couldn’t say for sure. He also said that Rousey will not be given such concessions for her next UFC fight.
Critics of the UFC’s handling of the situation have pointed to the fact that the promotion’s other superstar, Conor McGregor, was pulled from his headlining spot at UFC 200 for refusing to engage in a pre-fight press conference several months out from his scheduled rematch against Nate Diaz. But White said the two situations were dissimilar, and he quashed any notion that Rousey’s special treatment could open the floodgates for other UFC stars to request something similar.
“Wouldn’t that be something, if Conor was complaining about the treatment of another fighter. That would be a flip,” White said.
“Like I said, there’s so many different fighters that I have to deal with, with different egos, different personalities, whatever it might be. You can’t miss a press conference. Ronda asked to, from the day that this fight was made, she said ‘I’ll do press, I’ll do press leading up to the event,’ and she went and did the talk shows and did all that stuff. And this is the way she wanted to do it. So I said okay.
“This is something she asked for. It doesn’t open floodgates. It doesn’t change anything. If somebody doesn’t want to show up for a press conference, I’ll pull them from a card again.”
White also addressed those who have criticized the UFC for focusing it’s promotion solely on Rousey in the lead-up to UFC 207. Many of the promos for UFC 207 have featured very little of Nunes, despite the fact that she is the division’s reigning champion — a fact which was even pointed out by UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
White acknowledged that the UFC focused most of it’s promotion on Rousey, but he is confident that Nunes will get the shine she deserves if things work out her way on Friday night.
“There was a lot of talk about Amanda wasn’t represented in the videos and the commercials and all the things that we did,” White said. “There’s only so many dollars you can spend to promote a fight. So obviously, if you have with, is it Ronda-heavy? Absolutely, it’s Ronda-heavy. It absolutely makes sense. If Amanda Nunes wins on Friday night, everybody will know who Amanda Nunes is.”
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