Ronda Rousey returns to the Octagon after more than a year away to take on Amanda Nunes for the UFC women’s bantamweight title at UFC 207.
Rousey and Nunes hold down the main event slot while Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt battle for the men’s bantamweight title in the co-main event. The main card also features of No. 1 contender’s bout between TJ Dillashaw and John Lineker, as well as the return of Dong Hyun Kim and a tilt between top 15 flyweights.
Let’s take a closer look at these bouts and which fighters might come out victorious.
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Ronda Rousey vs. Amanda Nunes
Ronda Rousey lost a heartbreaker to Holly Holm in her last UFC fight and things don’t get any easier in her return against current champion Amanda Nunes.
Like Holm, Nunes possesses exceptional striking and should be able to give Rousey problems on the feet with her ability to use her reach and box on the outside. Nunes is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and brown belt in Judo, so her grappling is obviously no slouch and her ground-and-pound might be the best in the division.
She’ll need it Friday night against Rousey, who is hands down one of the best fighters in UFC history. Rousey is a dominant grappler, using her Olympic Judo to toss opponents around, and if she gets the fight to the ground, it’s usually a wrap.
The x-factor here will be Rousey’s mindset. “Rowdy” has been largely out of sight in the lead-up to UFC 207 and there’s really no telling how committed she is to this bout. If it’s the same Ronda Rousey that dominated the sport for years, she has a chance to reclaim her belt. If not, it could be a long night for Rousey fans.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes by second-round TKO
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Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt
According to a Fightnomics, Cody Garbrandt has the highest offensive knockdown rate in the bantamweight while opponent Dominick Cruz has the highest power head strike defense -- meaning Garbrandt is the hardest hitting the division and Cruz is the hardest to hit.
This should be a key factor in their co-main event bout, as Garbrandt will need to connect with his power punches if he wants a chance to dethrone Cruz.
Garbrandt has shown the ability to quickly close the distance against the shiftiest of fighters, but he hasn’t faced anyone like Cruz before. Cruz has a very unique stand-up style that uses a mix of footwork and head movement to keep his opponents on their toes.
Thanks to his blistering fast finishes, we haven’t see much of Garbrandt outside of knockout power. So Cruz would be wise to try to drag the young fighter into the championship rounds to truly test his mettle.
Prediction: Dominick Cruz by decision
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TJ Dillashaw vs. John Lineker
This bantamweight No. 1 contender bout could mimic the UFC 207 co-main event. TJ Dillashaw, a former champion who uses shifty movements and elusive footwork similar to that of Dominick Cruz, battles hard-hitting bantamweight John Lineker for the next shot at the title.
Dillashaw has impressively landed over 100 significant strikes in five out of his last six bouts as he fights with a relentless pace. He lands just over 40 percent of his strikes and doesn’t absorb much punishment either.
It remains to be seen if he can duck Lineker’s heavy right hand though. Dillashaw would be wise to keep his distance, engage on his own terms and avoid any fire fights with the young Brazilian.
Prediction: TJ Dillashaw by decision
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Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Dong Hyun Kim makes his Octagon return against former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine in what, on paper, appears to be an all-action bout on the UFC 207 main card.
“Stun Gun” is a fearless striker and a world-class Judoka but at 35 years old and out of competition for more than a year, ring rust may factor in here. He’ll need to stick with what’s worked for him in his career and that’s engaging the clinch and dragging the fight to the canvas for some ground-and-pound.
Saffiedine will need to strike at a distance and use a variety of kicks and punches to keep the south Korean from tying him up. That’ll be hard to do for three rounds.
Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim by third-round TKO
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Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg
Rising prospects Ray Borg and Louis Smolka kick off the main card at UFC 207. Smolka has been quite the surprise lately, winning four of his last five, including three by finish.
Borg showed immense potential in his first four UFC fights, as he used his grappling to suffocate opponents before locking in submissions.
Smolka is a well-rounded fighter who should have the advantage in the stand-up and can hold his own on the ground. If he puts it all together, he should be able to earn a nice victory here.