UFC is better when they have a marketable star. That’s a common motif in the coverage of all sports, but that doesn’t make it any less true. That star was Ronda Rousey for a while, but her loss to Holly Holm and subsequent injury has slowed her momentum. Conor McGregor could have been that star as well; he was certainly a publicity machine, but he lost to Nate Diaz and now all the buzz surrounding him is in relation to whether or not he’ll fight Floyd Mayweather — which it doesn’t seem he will, at least in the near future.
Rousey and McGregor have done well as faces of the sport, but when push comes to shove, the UFC is still in the process of building a more mainstream audience. Its recent announcement of the return of Brock Lesnar to fight at UFC 200 helps create more buzz around an event that lost its top two headliners.
Lesnar is a household name, not just among fight fans but among all sports fans. ESPN covered his return announcement as did every other outlet. That’s big for UFC, the more casual fans that know about UFC 200, the better. Even if Lesnar goes right back to WWE after this match, his being at UFC 200 will continue to grow audience for a sport that had its top two stars defeated and drop out of the marquee event.