UFC president Dana White has already claimed women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey as "the biggest star in UFC history", which is a heavy quote given that her career in the organization spans just 3 fights and 14 months. Bellator's Bjorn Rebney took issue with that comment, and in an interview with MMA Junkie, he addressed this by calling the characterization as "disrespectful" (quotes also transcribed from Junkie):
"I would never want to verbalize disrespect for a fighter ... but to characterize her as the biggest star in MMA is, I believe, a little disrespectful to a lot of fighters who have put in year after year after year in this game," Rebney recently told MMAjunkie. "If Ronda fights ‘Cyborg' and she could beat ‘Cyborg,' I think that would be a big statement as to where she is in the game. But to characterize her as the biggest star is a bit disingenuous. I think there are a lot of huge stars in MMA."
Rebney went as far as to compare Rousey's stardom and marketing as that of Brock Lesnar, who, in terms of average buyrate numbers, is the biggest PPV draw in UFC history:
"In my own personal opinion, it seems like a very forced marketing position that someone's taking because she's attractive and she appears on a lot of magazine covers, and I think we saw that once before at Strikeforce, and (Gina Carano) fought ‘Cyborg' and lost handedly," Rebney said. "No disrespect to Brock (Lesnar), but he was forced into a situation very quickly coming off very few fights to be positioned as a world champ because he could be sold on pay-per-view. Not because he beat the best fighters in the world, but because he could be sold. I think we're seeing the exact same thing in Ronda, and anyone who would tell you differently is not speaking the truth."
In a landscape where Georges St-Pierre is effectively retired, Jon Jones is coming off of his worst PPV in his championship reign, and Anderson Silva is no longer the middleweight champion, is Rebney right to say that the "biggest star in MMA" tag for Rousey is not accurate?
Speaking of claims, earlier in the interview, Rebney once again touted his promotion's champions, saying he would "bet his house" that Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler would beat any 155er on Earth (but never referenced the deep talent pool at lightweight that's developed on Jupiter), and believes that Alexander Shlemenko is the best middleweight in the world, and would defeat anyone in any organization.