For weeks, the UFC has been promoting UFC 207 on television and social media platforms to get fans hyped up. It was announced that Dominic Cruz, the men’s bantamweight champ, would be defending his belt against the young and upcoming Cody Garbrandt. The other big news for the card was that Ronda Rousey, the former queen of the women’s bantamweight division, would be making her return to the octagon after an extended break.
What failed to make the headlines was that Amanda Nunes, the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion, would be defending her belt for the first time. In July, Nunes submitted the former champion Miesha Tate to claim the belt. That was the third time the belt had changed hands in less than a year. Now, Nunes has the opportunity to be the first woman to successfully defend her belt since Rousey was champion, and the odds seem in her favor.
Nunes, who is 13-4, is going to be the toughest match-up for Rousey yet. Prior to this, her toughest match came from Holly Holm, who knocked Rousey out early in the second round. Nunes has trained Judo for years, and although that is Rousey’s strength, it is not the only aspect of the fight.
Nunes is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She has finished three of her fights by submission including her most recent win. She will likely be able to avoid getting trapped by one of Rousey’s famous arm-bars, which is her favorite way to finish a fight. Rousey, 12-1, finished 9 of her 12 fights via arm-bar.
When it comes to striking, Nunes has the definite edge. She began boxing at age 16 and is one of the few women that has knockout power. She has won 9 of her fights by knockout and will give Rousey a significant challenge on her feet. Besides Holm, Nunes is one of the best strikers Rousey will face. We’ve seen what Rousey can do on the ground, but the fight starts standing. In order to get to the ground, Rousey will need to find a way to get there, and when punches are being thrown, that can become a challenge.
We saw Rousey struggle to bring Holm to the ground, while Holm made the striking look easy. If Rousey is going to have any shot of winning the fight on her feet, she is going to need to have significantly improved on her striking. She will need to make sure she stays tight and does not go out there swinging for the fences.
Although anything can happen in a fight, Amanda Nunes should have the edge over Rousey. Although Rousey has beat some of the women that Nunes has lost to, that doesn’t mean that Nunes cannot get the best of Rousey. One of the best things about any sport is that athletes are consistently working to become better versions of themselves, and no two match-ups will ever be exactly the same.
After some of Rousey’s previous statements following her loss to Holm, there is a lot riding on this fight for her. The mental stress, along with her extended hiatus from fighting, could prove to be too much for her. However, it could be exactly the opposite. She could go out there and put on another stellar performance.
The UFC 207 ads all seem to focus on one thing; Rousey’s return. Don’t let their advertising fool you, as Nunes is not one to be overlooked. The current champ is ready, and she will certainly pose a challenge to the once dominant force of the female division. The road to return has been a long one for Rousey, but will she have what it takes to come back and beat Nunes to reclaim the belt? The world will find out on Fri., Dec 30.
Prediction: Nunes defeats Rousey via TKO in the 2nd round.