Ronda Rousey’s Appearance In ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’ Partially Responsible For Successful Pay-Per-View Numbers?

Early pay-per-view estimates are showing that this past weekend’s UFC 184 — Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano — are showing that Ronda Rousey could very well be the biggest star in the UFC. The non-pay-per-view preliminary card for UFC 184 on Fox Sports 1 drew 1.2 million viewers, and peaked at 1.45 million viewers, which is the third highest rating in the history of preliminary fights on FS1.

As for the actual pay-per-view numbers, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer says the buyrate is going to be much higher than expected, and that it’s going to end up doing better business than last month’s UFC 183, which was headlined by Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz.

“I was told DirecTV numbers were roughly identical to the January 31 show, and Google searches for the show, which in most cases is an amazingly accurate predictor of PPV numbers, were four percent ahead of Silva vs. Diaz, and 26 percent below Jones vs. Cormier.”

Meltzer also speculates that the success of UFC 184 could be because of Rousey’s appearance in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue last month, which — in most people’s opinion — made Rousey a much bigger star than she already was.

The other reason for the high pay-per-view numbers is that Rousey likely brings in a lot of female fans who don’t care about MMA or the UFC when Rousey isn’t fighting.

There have been MMA fans who think that Rousey’s dominance will hurt her pay-per-view numbers, but it certainly doesn’t look like the lack of competitiveness is going to negatively impact Rousey’s drawing power, and that it actually helps her drawing power, much like it did Mike Tyson.

It’s going to be a while before Rousey defends her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title again, as she is scheduled to begin filming a move entitled Mile 22, where she’s going to play a CIA operative. It’s a major role, so she’ll likely be out-of-action until late summer or early fall.

As for who’s next for Rousey when she returns to the octagon, well it’s expected that Bethe Correia and Jessica Eye will have a fight to determine the number one contender for Rousey’s title at some point in the spring. Of course there’s always talks of bringing in Cris “Cyborg” Justino to take on Rousey in what would be the female version of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, but “Cyborg” may not be able to make it down to 135 pounds, so until she is able to, that fight will be put on the back-burner.

[Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images]