The final UFC fight week of 2016 is set to begin, and both Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes will be noticeably absent when it gets underway.
The highly anticipated bout is still on, but fans will have no teaser as to what will happen when the cage door closes at UFC 207. The UFC announced the itinerary for the fight week leading up to UFC 207, and both Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes will not be doing any appearances before their fight on Friday.
The news is unusual but not altogether unexpected. Much of the build-up has been the return of Rousey and the former champion has done relatively little media. The few appearances she has had, on Ellen and Conan, were in much more pleasant environments than a media day press conference, to say the least.
Firstly, as nearly all of the promotion has been around Rousey, it is a great move on the part of the UFC to allow the champion Nunes to also remove herself from media obligations. Rousey is the bigger star, but to allow the challenger a pass on the media and not the champion would have been a huge faux pas on behalf of the organization.
However, after the controversy this past summer at UFC 200 cost Conor McGregor a chance to headline the seminal event, many feel that it is a double-standard for Rousey to be allowed to abstain from media obligations. McGregor missed a press conference and media obligations more than a month out from the fight and was pulled from the card. Now, Rousey being allowed to avoid speaking to the media seems to be a lot of back-tracking on behalf of the UFC.
Rousey has spoken about how she feels she has done too much media in her previous fights and that is the reason for her refusal to appear before UFC 207. However, her media blackout is causing a schism between herself, her peers, and the media.
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Nunes herself has stated that she feels the UFC is “coddling” Rousey by keeping her away from the media ahead of the fight. Certainly, plenty of star fighters have suffered huge losses and have had to face the media before their subsequent bouts. Why should Rousey be any different?
Perhaps the allowance can be made that no other MMA fighter has ever been a bigger star than Rousey. No fighter, McGregor, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, and the list goes on, have had anywhere near the cross-over appeal that Rousey has.
From the movie appearances, successful autobiography, commercials, and magazines, Rousey is a far bigger star than any of the fighters that have come before her. The non-MMA media she attracts is greater than anyone else, and the UFC may indeed be granting her an exception for just that reason. She is allowed to avoid the attention because she attracts far more than anyone else.
That said, all of this will only make sense if Rousey is successful. At the very least, she needs to be competitive for however long the fight lasts. She has already stated in her few appearances that she is among the last few fights of her career. If she loses, many believe she will retire. Should that happen, it will feel as if Rousey took the media and the public for one large ride. What would she have to say then?