Having an undefeated record in combat sports is one of the most valuable assets in combat sports. Floyd Mayweather Jr. made a whole brand centered on having a zero in his loss column. Many thought, myself included, Rousey’s apparent invincibility was what helped make her such a star in the mainstream.
Dana White said this in an interview ESPN’s First Take (Why this show is still on the air is a mystery given how repugnant some of the things Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless say are, but that’s a different story):
“It’s funny because we were comparing her to Tyson, who had this invincibility. She was a Tyson. It was never more true than when she lost. Because when she lost, everybody was shocked. A hundred million people were talking about it on social media. And I actually think that Ronda Rousey is bigger now after the loss than she was before the fight. And there’s gonna be a rematch.”
Rousey is on the cover of the next ESPN The Magazine.
What this means for combat sports:
It’s a promising sign that casual fans care more about the individual fighter than a win-loss record. A fighter’s star power is no longer tied to their athletic prowess inside the ring in order to be the biggest moneymakers.
The again, Pacquiao lost twice in 2012 and casual sports fans would only ask me when Mayweather would fight Pacquiao, even if there were many other fighters who might put up a bigger fight to Money.
I think this might be a sign that if a fighter’s brand is disassociated from the storyline of “dead or in jail” or having a perfect record they can have bigger, more valuable, and more consistent brand value.