Who’s the biggest star in the UFC? Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey? It’s probably a question UFC president Dana White would rather not have to answer, lest he upset one fighter or the other. But lately the media seems very insistent on making him declare which is his favorite child. When a reporter at the UFC 205 press conference asked him who the headliner would be if Ronda and Conor were both on the card, White laughed the question off, telling the troublemaker “What is that? Sit down!”
But he was more candid in a radio interview with New York radio station Hot 97, saying Ronda Rousey is “by far” the bigger name.
“By far. Not even close,” he said. “By far the biggest star. Ronda Rousey is such a big star. When you go down to Brazil, they don’t care who you are. They want the Brazilian to whup 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.”
That’s an interesting answer considering Conor McGregor’s last two fights were the biggest pay-per-views in UFC history. But there’s more to being a star than the number of events sold. When you consider the amount of mainstream attention Ronda Rousey gets compared to Conor McGregor, there’s a good chance Dana White is right.
Conor McGregor is a massive name in the sport, but Ronda beats him by transcending the sport. At her peak, every network and magazine and Hollywood producer wanted a piece of Ronda. McGregor gets a lot of that too, but not at the levels Ronda did.
“Did” is a key word here, though. Since largely disappearing from the public eye after her loss to Holly Holm last year, that intense interest in every move Ronda makes has waned. And in the meantime, McGregor has been building a very solid case to take her top spot. How the world will react to Rousey if and when she finally returns is a big question mark, and it’s very dependent on whether she bounces back and dominates in the Octagon again.