By Adam Martin
The numbers are in, and UFC 207 is a hit. MMAFighting.com's Dave Meltzer reported Sunday that UFC 207, headlined by the return of Ronda Rousey against UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion champion Amanda Nunes, sold 1.1 million pay-per-views.
Over the summer, UFC 200 was also a big hit, and it also did 1.1 million PPV buys. The common link between these two cards? That would be Nunes.
That's right, the 135-pound champ has headlined two cards that have broken the 1 million PPV mark. In a sport where stars are hard to come by, that's absolutely incredible to hear.
Remember, this is the same fighter UFC President Dana White said no one knew, and that's why the organization failed to promote her in the leadup to UFC 207 (and UFC 200, for that matter). I mean sure, of course people were buying UFC 200 because of the historic number and because fighters like Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva, and Cain Velasquez were on it. But they also got to see Miesha Tate fight Nunes in the main event, meaning Nunes got a nice push from that card when she won in the main event, a push the UFC failed to capitalize on to make UFC 207 even bigger.
Fortunately, Nunes did do a post-fight press conference, and we learned during it just how charismatic she really is. In the past, Brazilian fighters such as Jose Aldo have not spoken English, and that hurt attempts to make them stars in the United States. But Nunes lives in the U.S. and she speaks fantastic English. She says she's shy in front of the cameras, but you wouldn't know that when you hear her talk. And she has an amazing story to boot, one the UFC has failed to tell the majority of its fans about, with the exception of the hardcores who specifically sought it out.
Even though he is the greatest promoter in MMA history and obviously knows a thing or two about the fight game, I couldn't disagree with White more about Nunes’ marketability. I believe the UFC is missing the boat on Nunes, a fighter who can be a superstar for the company.
It's possible the UFC has lucked into Nunes. I know I'm not the only one who never thought she would be a UFC champion. But after going 7-1 in the UFC with six finishes, including brutal stoppages over two of the greatest female fighters ever in Tate and Rousey, she has proven she's an incredible fighter, and with the exposure she's gotten on these huge PPVs, I think she can be a star. With the right push from the UFC, of course.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Julianna Pena. Neither of those fighters is a star, so it will be interesting to see if Nunes is able to draw on her own, without a Tate or Rousey to bolster her drawing power. I guess it's possible the UFC could make her the co-main event with a bigger name in the main event, but as far as I'm concerned, it would be wiser to put Nunes in the main event, push her more, and see how many PPVs she can deliver on her own.
The UFC is always looking for the next big star, and after headlining two huge PPV blockbusters and winning in devastating fashion in both of them, Amanda Nunes could be that star. With her exciting fighting style, knockout power, amazing highlight reel, personality and charisma, and with her ability to speak English, the UFC needs to start putting its promotional muscle behind her and make her the sport's next superstar in 2017 and beyond.