How much is it worth to get kicked in the face?
If you’re Ronda Rousey, our answer may cheer you up a bit.
The UFC wunderkind, who went undefeated during the last three years, suffered an unanticipated loss this past weekend during UFC 193, when a blow from kickboxer Holly Holm sent her crashing to the mats. She lost more than just her match and her title—she also lost her veneer of invulnerability, a central component of the Rousey mystique. So we were curious—did Holm’s kick do as much damage to Rousey’s brand value as it did to her upper lip?
Projected Fight Earnings
We looked at Rousey’s current projected fight earnings for 2016 through 2019 and compared it to an alternate scenario, which assumes she had won her match against Holm. We account for the fact that her medical suspension means she’ll only be able to manage 2 matches in 2016 instead of her usual 3 per year, but we also estimate that her viewership will grow at a slightly higher rate now that she’s more of a wildcard, rather than if she had continued her streak.
Our estimate for the end of 2016 shows that Rousey’s earnings would be roughly the same had she won or lost; but with 33% less time in the cage. Said differently, her earning power for next year went up on a relative basis due to her loss last weekend. We also estimate that viewership of her matches will go up over the next few years. By the end of 2019, though, her cut on the bump in viewership will more than make up for the temporary setback of her loss—the increase in her present value between the two scenarios is about $4 million over the next 4 years.
It makes sense to assume that the loss of an athlete’s title would be followed by a loss in an athlete’s value. But that doesn’t take into account that invincibility is boring. People aren’t going to keep tuning in if they know what to expect. The UFC was running out of fighters to throw at Rousey until UFC 193, when they found a genuine rival for her in Holly Holm. Not only does this make the possibility of a rematch much more lucrative, it also means that Rousey is no longer predictable. The stakes are higher for every single match from here on out, because now we know she could lose—and that makes it even more thrilling to watch.