Although both parties have since moved onto bigger, better things (if you happen to consider crushing cans for Invicta FC ”bigger” or “better”), MMA fans cannot seem to get over the botched negotiations between Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey that eventually led to the cancellation of what would have been the biggest fight in WMMA history at UFC 157. You know the story: Rousey was unwilling to even consider holding the fight at a catchweight, and it was physically impossible for Cyborg to make 135 pounds (or so we were told). Both fighters were left spinning their tires in the mud, that is, until Tito Ortiz showed up and everything really went to hell.
Cyborg was eventually released from her UFC contract, and Rousey went on to become the UFC’s first women’s champ, an influential and inspirational figure in female sports, and a universal sex symbol. So clearly, Tito Ortiz: Manager crushed another one out of the park. But if you were one of those fans who blamed Ortiz (and/or the rest of Cyborg’s Primetime 360 management team) for screwing things up in the first place, you should first turn your crosshairs on the people they were negotiating with. Because according to Ortiz’s Primetime 360 team partner, George Prajin, weight wasn’t even the issue, it was those damn Zuffa tightwads! MMAFighting’s Mike Chiappetta reports:
While (match weight) was at the center of most conversations in the media regarding the inability to make the Cyborg-Rousey fight, it was not the deal-breaker it’s been reported to be.
During the ongoing negotiations, which lingered for about two months, the promotion agreed to pay for the services of a dieting and nutrition consultant like Dolce. But there were other points that the two sides could not agree on.
The biggest issue, according to Cyborg’s management firm Primetime 360, was Zuffa treating Cyborg as a bit player rather than an event co-star.
So there you have it: For whatever reason, Rousey has been a bigger pay-per-view attraction than Cyborg over the years, and the UFC was compensating each fighter accordingly. Rousey made 45k/45k at UFC 157 (with a PPV percentage bonus thrown in), whereas Cyborg’s Strikeforce deal had her earning 33k/33k for each of her appearances. While it’s true that Cyborg’s fierce reputation is half the reason fans are interested in seeing the Rousey fight, said fight is apparently where Cyborg’s interest level drops off.
And honestly, if Cyborg were to beat Rousey by anything other than a controversial decision, it would be the worst thing the UFC could ask for. Gone would be the photoshoots, the commercials, the cross-promotional deals, and the general glamour of the Rousey Era. The UFC’s womens division would become stagnant, then likely collapse under the weight of having an unmarketable champion ruling over it. Look no further than Strikeforce’s featherweight division after Cyborg beat Gina Carano into an early retirement for proof of this.
Of course, Cyborg’s management also stated that their client had no plans of staying at 135 even if she beat Rousey, which pretty much proves our point entirely. Prajin continued:
Basically, her fighting at 135 is handicapping her. 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.
Nothing left, indeed. Unfortunately for Cyborg (and the fans), it appears that the UFC caught onto this notion before Cyborg’s crack legal team could.