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Ronda Rousey Loss: Mike Tyson Shows a First Loss Can Sometimes Boost Purses

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Has Ronda Rousey's loss to Holly Holm devalued the former's stock or could it make the fighter dubbed 'Rowdy' an even hotter ticket in the long term?

Prior to losing her title to Holly Holm last fall, former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey was 12-0 with 11 stoppages in the first round.

(Image courtesy of Sherdog)

To say she was dominant would be an under-statement.

But fans were starting to grow accustomed to seeing her obliterate opposition in fights measured in seconds.

And while hardcore junkies of mixed martial arts were intrigued whenever Rousey stepped in the Octagon, some casual fans of MMA were starting to feel slighted.

"I spent $50 for a 14 second fight," one fan told me.

"I'm not shelling out that kind money again for another Rousey mismatch."

Keep in mind, casual fans purchase fight cards for the main event, often not taking the undercard into consideration.

Had Ronda continued overpowering opponents in the first round, casual fans of the sport would have likely become weary, seemingly hesitant to spend money to watch Ronda dispatch yet another overmatched opponent in the first round.


... But Ronda showed she was human after all, having been signed, sealed and delivered by former boxing champion Holly Holm.

Ronda can be beaten - and beaten-up.

Her aura of invincibility might be gone but, to the casual fan, Rousey's future bouts will have an element of intrigue, instead. As a result, many casual fans (large numbers of the general public who are "occassional" viewers of MMA) will no longer assume a foregone conclusion and may be more likely to spend money to see her fight.


Mike Tyson
After former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who was also viewed as invincible, was knocked out by Buster Douglas in 1990 in arguably the biggest upset in boxing history, the former's purses rose.

Prior to that bout, Tyson's highest purse was $22 million, income generated for his Summer 1988 bout with Michael Spinks. It was the biggest purse ever paid to a boxer at the time.

Following the Douglas loss, Tyson would earn two first round knockouts before winning two highly competitive bouts over Razor Ruddock who was able to rock Mike in both fights.

After a four year prison stint, Tyson's purses soared, despite showing the vulnerabilities he showed in bouts with Douglas and Ruddock.

Tyson earned $25 million for his comeback fight against relatively unknown Peter McNeeley in 1995. And although he earned only $10 million for his second return about against Buster Mathis, Iron Mike pocked a hefty $30 million for each of his subsequent bouts against Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon, not exactly household names in the U.S. mainstream.

And Tyson would again receive $30 million apiece in two losses to superstar Evander Holyfield in 1996 and 1997. And yet, despite being knocked out by Evander, a past-his-prime Tyson would earn $17.5 million for his 2002 superfight with Lennox Lewis.

After Tyson showed he was vulnerable, his match-ups became more intriguing.

There were so many questions the public wanted answers to:

  • How would Mike react to his first loss?
  • Was the Douglas fight a fluke?
  • Did Mike simply not train properly?
  • Did Tyson make adjustments after the Douglas / Holyfield losses?
  • Is Holyfield for real or was his victory over Tyson a fluke?
  • Can Evander beat Tyson twice?
  • Does Lewis, like Holyfield, have Tyson's number?

As long as Rousey continues to be be successful inside the Octagon and charismatic outside it, her loss to Holm may only help enhance her drawing power.


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