Dana White vs. Darren Rovell is a Somewhat Underrated Rivalry
UFC 269 was rather ridiculous on Saturday night. You had Charles Oliveira successfully defend his lightweight belt for the first time. Julianna Pena was a +650 underdog and subbed Amanda Nunes in the second round, which devastated my bank account. Talk about an upset. Pena beating Nunes is akin to the Idaho Vandals taking out Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Then, after the fight, we had Dana White calling Darren Rovell a “dipshit” –
— BeatinTheBookie.com®️ (@BeatinTheBookie) December 12, 2021
In response, Rovell shared a pair of tweets:
“The guy who always “forgets” my name. For the record, I said Amanda Nunes was not marketable. Over her time as champ, she got tiny deals with Celsius, Crypto App, Trifecta Meals and Revivid Hemp drops. With her record, Rousey, Tate, Jedrzjczek or VanZant would get more views.”
“Dana is really great at taking shots at 1 in the morning. He might have the potty mouth this forum applauds, but I’ll debate him in any forum on this topic with data and crush him. Name time and place.”
This all stems from a tweet Rovell sent a few years ago, when Nunes knocked out Cris Cyborg to win the featherweight title and become a two-division champion.
Said Rovell at the time:
Between Rousey and Cyborg, Amanda Nunes has singlehandedly killed the most valuable women in the sport.
Brutally damaging to UFC.
Nunes isn't in the same marketing ballpark as either of those two.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 30, 2018
The whole thing is pretty funny/stupid to me, but who is right?
That depends. It’s true that Amanda Nunes didn’t have the same initial star power as Ronda Rousey. She’s Brazilian, an openly lesbian champion who went on marry another fighter on the roster. Rousey is white, an American, and straight, and while it might seem goofy or taboo to even go there, we’re talking about marketing to a mainstream North American male audience, so you understand what I’m talking about.
Nunes started 9-4 and had some early losses while Rousey was cleaning house en route to 12-0 via highlight-reel subs. Rousey came through at a time when women’s MMA had yet to turn a corner, and so there were a ton of eyeballs on her. As for Cyborg, she came into the UFC with just one loss and got to 20-1 before Nunes KO’d her, so I guess you could probably say there was more hype for her, too.
But Nunes has headlined a couple of big PPV cards in the past. According to Tapology.com, the total buy for Tate vs. Nunes crested a million, which is more than some other big cards, like GSP vs. Nick Diaz and Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 1. Cyborg vs. Nunes didn’t even headline UFC 232, but that PPV did a healthy 700,000.
I don’t know if it’s so much Nunes, or the UFC not properly pushing her, or the fact that she had no competition, and a lot of her fights ended up being co-main events. Make no mistake, she is an absolute superstar, and will go down as the best female MMA fighter of all time, so it’s less about her and more about other factors, in my mind.
The only way to settle this between Dana White and Darren Rovell is three rounds, in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. INTRODUCING first, FIGHTING out of the red corner, a mixed martial artist with a record of 0-0. It’s Dana White! And his opponent, in the blue corner, a freestyle fighter with a record also of 0-0. It’s Darren Rovell!