Excellent news, UFC! Three of your Octagonally-obsessed stars take up some rather nice real estate within cable sports giant ESPN’s rankings of the most popular athletes in the world. There’s just one snag with this good news, UFC brass. The company’s two most popular international stars are on an indefinite hiatus with with no real guarantee when/if they’ll return. So, uh, yay?
*puts confetti gun back in storage*
ESPN’s World Fame 100 rankings have been unveiled and they feature three UFC stars all nestled within the Top 50. Topping the MMA-minded athletes is Ronda Rousey clocking in at in an impressive #16. Even with being dismantled in embarrassing fashion by Amanda Nunes in her last fight and the pushback over her fall, Rousey has still managed to rank higher than other sports superstars like Serena Williams (#19), Tom Brady (#21) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (#26) despite the lack of answers about what Rousey’s UFC future holds.
Conor McGregor also enjoyed a fairly high spot in the overall rankings. The reigning UFC lightweight champion can be found in the #25 spot. MMA legend Anderson Silva is the only other fighter ESPN found a place for and he pops up at 39.
Returning to the blab of earlier, this sort of showing has got to give UFC some mixed feelings. Seeing Rousey, McGregor and Silva rank so high in an international popularity contest over other world superstars is a huge thing for the promotion’s perception. The bitter aftertaste is that there’s so much uncertainty attached. Rousey’s UFC career is a total mystery at this stage, McGregor’s preoccupied with his Floyd Mayweather megafight ambitions and Silva’s more an attraction due to his legend status rather than being the sport’s current phenom. To pull from another brand of underwear fights (the WWE), it is in the UFC’s best interest to do everything they can to build future stars that connect with the public.
(Via Bloody Elbow)