Cristiane Cyborg vs. Ronda Rousey is the fight that won’t go away. The biggest WMMA fight that the UFC could make has taken on a life of its own. While fans were always led to believe that weight kept these two apart a new report claims that the real issue was the money.
Chiapetta talked to one of the sparring partners from Cyborg’s management team, George Prajin. Prajin told Chiapetta , “They were compensating Ronda like she was the only attraction of the fight.” The money and promotion Rousey would have received was much bigger than Santos and while weight was always an issue, there was a belief that for the right price Cyborg would make 135.
Chiapetta also reports that Cyborg’s contract was the other issue. Santos already had a contract with Zuffa, specifically fights remaining on her Strikeforce deal. The story reports that Cyborg made $66,000 on her last fight. Both sides were willing to renegotiate but the UFC wanted an eight-fight deal while Cyborg’s camp did not want her committed to the UFC at 135 pounds for more than three fights.
“Basically, her fighting at 135 is handicapping her,” said Prajin. “We were willing to do that, and cut down and go work with Mike and get to 135 to do the fight because Cris wanted to fight Ronda. However, when they said we had to do it for eight fights? She doesn’t want to do the cut eight times when all she wants to do is fight Ronda and beat Ronda. After Ronda, there is really nothing left for her.”
What is good news here in the story is that this fight is a long way away from dead. According to the story, Cyborg’s deal with Invicta gives her an out-clause after her second fight. The idea behind this was to open up negotiations with the UFC at this point, should Cyborg remain undefeated. The other interesting nugget here was that according to the story, Cyborg’s deal with Invicta is paying her more than the UFC deal.
That could answer the question as to why she went there in the first place. The UFC and Invicta had an arrangement on the table wherein the company would farm Cyborg out to Invicta while she was under a UFC contract. Most wondered at the time why she would not remain with UFC and fight in Invicta as opposed to leaving the UFC altogether to get to the same place. If this is true, that would make sense.
It is hard to say who has the leverage here. The UFC did better than expected numbers for Rousey’s debut against Liz Carmouche and Rousey has been a media darling ever since. Rousey will get a ton of exposure off of the next The Ultimate Fighter but as UFC 159 showed, a great season of TUF doesn’t necessarily mean a blockbuster buyrate.
What is interesting to me about all of this is that the UFC were ready to go with this fight for Rousey’s debut. The UFC has a ton of stock invested into Rousey and that could have taken a nose dive if Cyborg won or even worse destroyed her. In a sense, this is almost playing out like a Rocky vs. Clubber Lang story. At some point if these two women stay undefeated you’d think that this fight just has to be made.