The return of Ronda Rousey has arrived. With the last event of the year, UFC 207 will set the stage for the comeback of the original pioneer of women’s MMA in the UFC. After her devastating KO loss to Holly Holm back at UFC193, Amanda Nunes has risen to the top of the Women’s Bantamweight division and will welcome back the former champ in the main event. The co-main event will be a battle for the men’s Bantamweight crown, with Dominick Cruz looking to pick off yet another Team Alpha Male fighter in explosive knockout artist, Cody Garbrandt.
We break down and the three main fights and try to pick the winner of every fight on the card.
NICK: I think the biggest question surrounding this fight, is what kind of state Ronda Rousey is in. There’s no doubt the loss to Holly Holm hit her HARD. The hiding for a year. The emotional Ellen appearance. The media blackout. It’s clearly bitten her and I’m not sure anyone that has been effected to that level, would ever come back and be the same. There’s no doubting that Ronda is a beast and she does look like she’s in phenomenal shape. She’s still one of the greatest in the world. The Holm loss however opened up her glaring weakness’ for the world to see and they are some BIG weaknesses. Women’s MMA is still very raw and the evolution of talent from two years ago to now, is absolutely massive. There are beasts running around that just weren’t in the game while Ronda was steamrolling everyone. Nunes is one of those. She may have a few losses on her record to fighters that Rousey has beat, but this is not the same Nunes from those fights. She has improved dramatically since those losses and is truly a well rounded mixed martial artist. There’s no denying that if Ronda manages to initiate the clinch and flip Nunes to the canvas, she could end the fight early with one of her submissions, and the MMA world will bow to the queen once again. I do however think that Rousey’s overly emotional, sloppy rushing attacks, will be met by solid, straight punches right to the face. What make’s that even more significant, is there isn’t anyone in the Women’s Bantamweight division that hit’s as hard as Amanda Nunes. Just ask Miesha Tate. In fact I’m not sure if there is a female mixed martial artist outside of Cyborg that hits as hard as Nunes. If Rousey’s stand up is as sloppy as it was against Holm, with very little head movement, Nunes could knock the living breaks off Rousey early. I think with her diverse striking arsenal, speed, movement and astonishing power, Nunes gets the job done early and it may be the last time we see one of the greatest ever in the octagon. PREDICTION: Amanda Nunes via TKO in Round 2
ZAC: She’s finally back! Ronda Rousey has returned to the UFC to attempt to take back what was violently removed from her over 12 months ago. Violence is something the current champ has a penchant for, it’s the best way to describe the manner in which she won the belt from the “old foe” Miesha tate at UFC 200. Nunes put more of a beating on her than Ronda ever did and she has had a few goes at it. I think the biggest question in this fight hangs over Ronda. If she come back as good as she was, I think she can win the fight. But if she comes back without her heart really in it and she’s not 100% focused, then she is in for a bad night. Amanda Nunes is a damging and powerful striker, with a BJJ Blackbelt. There’s no hiding from her in the octagon, certainly not for 5 rounds. In saying that you can never underestimate at champion and that’s exactly what Ronda was. I think a lot of people have forgotten how easily she blew through opponents in the past. Everyone knew what she was going to do, but they were all powerless to stop it. Part of me says Rousey and another says Nunes. I think if Rousey was back at Tristar with Firas Zhabi I’d be backing her, but I cant stand Edmond Tarverdyan. PREDICTION: Amanda Nunes via TKO in Round 2
Dominick Cruz 22-1 vs Cody Garbrandt 10-0
NICK: The scrap for the Bantamweight Championship is one hell of a stylistic match-up. You have the champ Dominick Cruz, arguably the most unique striker in the UFC, with relentless and unpredictable movement in one corner. In the other, you have the one dimensional boxer with tremendous power, that plants his feet looking for the big finish and often finds it. The strategies for both fighters are pretty clear. Cruz will look to use that exceptional movement to keep Garbrandt unsettled and unable to find any sort of rhythm. Getting in and out with precision and picking Garbrandt apart. Garbrandt will be looking to predict the movement of Cruz, find his opportunity and connect with one of his powerful shots. I think if anyone in the division is going to catch Cruz with a shot powerful enough to put him down, it’s definitely Garbrandt. However, I think Cruz is just far too good, and far too experienced. I also think this opportunity has come just a little bit too early in the career of Garbrandt. Despite being full of talent, he has yet to put the runs on the board. His biggest win was against another prospect Almeida, who is yet to defeat a top 15 fighter. He talked his way into this title shot with his Team Alpha Male connections and I think it’s a bridge too far at this stage. Cruz will continue to press his claims as one of the greatest ever, put on a clinic and send Garbrandt back to the drawing board. PREDICTION: Dominick Cruz via unanimous decision
ZAC: Well there’s no love lost here, and I think that plays straight into Cruz’s hand. The more Cody is wound up and emotionally involved, the harder and wilder he is going to swing, making one of the hardest men to hit in the UFC even harder to hit. Cruz is so intelligent and has such brilliant footwork, he’s just going to stay out of Garbrandts way and pick his shots, unless he gets cracked. Cody hits as hard as anyone at 135lbs and has a really good boxing technique, as well as the trademark Team Alphamale ground and choke game. On paper this is simple either Cruz outpoints Garbrandt or Cody sleeps him. PREDICTION: Cody Garbrandt Via KO in Round 1
TJ Dillashaw 14-3 vs John Lineker 29-7
NICK: There’s every chance that the winner of this fight goes on to fight the winner of Cruz v Garbrandt for the title. I also think there is every chance that losers may fight each other too. It’s the perfect prelude to the title fight and should be an absolute barn burner in it’s own right. Much like the title fight, you’ve got one fighter in Dillashaw with a diverse arsenal, tremendous speed and movement. Opposite him Lineker, the fighter with heat-seeking missiles for hands, looking to throw bombs until one lands and shuts the lights out. Much like the fight above I see this going the way of the more creative fighter in Dillashaw. It’s super tough to pick though and my heart keeps telling me that Lineker is going to land that killer blow. But I’m a logical man and my head is going with the former champ Dillashaw. He’ll stay out of the way of those bombs, mix up his attack with strong wrestling and precision, grinding out a comfortable win. PREDICTION: TJ Dillashaw via unanimous decision.
ZAC: Pretty much as above for this one, except these two have been far more respectful to each other. I Think Dillashaw is more of a finisher than Cruz however and Lineker isn’t quite as technical with his striking or grappling as Cody is, that’s why im going to have to go with TJ. He has a big reach advantage, better wrestling and in my opinion he should still be the Bantamweight champ. PREDICTION: TJ Dillashaw via unanimous decision
|Amanda Nunes vs Ronda Rousey||Nunes||Nunes|
|Dominick Cruz vs Cody Garbrandt||Cruz||Garbandt|
|TJ Dillashaw vs John Lineker||Dillashaw||Dillashaw|
|Dong Hyun Kim vs Tarec Saffiedine||Kim||Saffiedine|
|Louis Smolka vs Ray Borg||Smolka||Smolka|
|Johny Hendricks vs Neil Magny||Magny||Magny|
|Antonio Carlos Junior vs Marvin Vettori||Vettori||Carlos Junior|
|Mike Pyle vs Alex Garcia||Garcia||Garcia|
|Brandon Thatch vs Niko Price||Thatch||Thatch|
|Alex Oliveira vs Tim Means||Means||Means|