F,riday night in Las Vegas, Ronda Rousey makes her return against Amanda Nunes, and attempts to get her championship belt back. You might not know it if you didn’t see the 3 minute Ronda Rousey promo because she’s refused to talk to any media and no one knows who Amanda Nunes is even though they should. The men’s bantamweight title is on the line as well when Cody Garbrandt tries to dethrone the champ Dominick Cruz. Two exciting fights to wrap the year up, and finally the return of the greatest female fighter of all time. Here’s my picks for UFC 207.
-135 Ray Borg 9-2 over +105 Louis Smolka 11-2
Ray Borg and Louis Smolka are both trying to bounce back from losses going into this fight. Borg lost a decision to Justin Scroggins in February, and Smolka was submitted by Brandon Moreno back in October. Smolka will be the longer fighter and will try to use it to his advantage as long as he can. Borg, on the other hand, will look to get in close and take the fight to the ground. Smolka does have a good ground game, but Borg’s wrestling will be able to shut it down. Borg will score a lot of points from top position and grind out the win over Smolka.
-145 Dong Hyun Kim 21-3-1 over +115 Tarec Saffiedine 16-5
You can ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you I’ve been one of the biggest Dong fans for years. Give me a bucket of popcorn and a liter of cola, and I can sit and watch Dong all day long. He is one of the most underrated welterweight fighters, but Friday night, Dong will remind us all that he is a force to be reckoned with. Saffiedine will have the advantage in the striking department, if only there was a way he could keep Dong on the outside and avoid Dong pressing him up against the cage. Dong will get Saffiedine’s back up against the cage and wear him down until he can get Saffiedine down to the mat. Once Dong gets on top of Saffiedine it becomes Dong’s world. Dong will dump loads of powerful shots on Saffiedine, until Saffiedine needs the ref’s help getting his back off the mat.
-235 TJ Dillashaw -235 over +185 John Lineker 29-7
Former Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw is looking to work his way back into a title shot with a win over John Lineker; neither has been promised a shot at the title with a win on Friday. Dillashaw earned a decision win over Rafael Assuncao back in July and Lineker is riding a 6 fight win streak heading into Friday night. Lineker is known for his knockout power and “brawler” style of fighting, which may not work so well against a fighter like Dillashaw. Dillashaw will be constantly moving in and out while switching stances from the second the fight starts until it ends. Eventually, after loading up on missed punches and chasing Dillashaw around the octagon, Lineker will get tired. His punches will lose steam and he’ll eat all kinds of kicks and punches from Dillashaw who will be able to move in and out without taking any damage. Another walk in the park for Dillashaw.
-225 Dominick Cruz 22-2 over +175 Cody Garbrandt 10-0
For Cody’s sake, I hope he shows up better prepared for this fight than he has for any of the interviews leading up to it. He might be one of the most exciting up and coming fighters out there, but watching him trying to talk trash sounds like something you would hear a 13-year-old say on Xbox Live. Garbrandt is undefeated and has finished his last three opponents, but he was also 16-years-old the last time Cruz lost. Since then, Cruz has beat several of Garbrandt teammates; he most recently defeated Urijah Faber in June. Garbrandt seems confident heading into this one, but he’s going up against a style he has never faced and a guy who hasn’t lost since 2007. Cutting off the cage and timing one of those big right hands from Garbrandt sounds easy enough, but this is where Cody will struggle. Cutting the cage off and trying to time Dominick Cruz is damn near impossible. Cruz switches stances and angles fluidly, moves in and out, left and right, while switching levels, and landing combinations. There’s always a chance for Cody to land a big shot and end the fight, but if it doesn’t happen early in the fight, it won’t happen at all. The more he swings and misses the more frustrated he will become which will result in Cruz picking him apart. Cruz is a very smart fighter, and the longer the fight goes Cody will become more predictable. Garbrandt will be focused on landing one big shot while Cruz will attack his entire body. Garbrandt is young and has a long successful fighting career ahead of him, but Friday night will not be his night.
-140 Ronda Rousey 12-1 over +110 Amanda Nunes 13-4
It’s been just over a year since Ronda Rousey was outclassed and knocked out cold in the middle of the octagon. On November 14, 2015, Holly Holm did the impossible and beat Rowdy Ronda in front of a shocked crowd in Melbourne, Australia; up until that night, Rousey dominated the division. In her return, Rousey has refused to talk to speak to media, including participating in press conferences. You have to wonder where she is mentally and how she will react if faced with another fighter that can avoid her takedowns and out strike her; Nunes is that fighter.
Nunes can out strike Rousey and has a good ground game as well, but Rousey won’t make the same mistakes she made with Holm. Even though she has arguably one the worst coaches in MMA, I think she has enough self-discipline to stick to what she knows and avoid a boxing match with Nunes. If Rousey does decide to try out her boxing again it could ruin her return. Nunes is on a 4-fight win streak and 3 of those fights didn’t make it out of the first round. She easily defeated Miesha Tate in July and has been studying Rousey since before she won the title. Defeating Rousey would be huge for Nunes. Who knows how much longer Rousey wants to fight. This could be her last fight or this could set up a Holm rematch for the 145 belt if Holm can win in February. Either way, Rousey steps in the octagon Friday night with something to prove, she sticks to what got her where she is, and hopefully doesn’t listen to her coach at all. Rousey gets the win in her big return then disappears back into the darkness until she decides she wants to fight again.
-115 Neil Magny 18-6 over -115 Johny Hendricks 17-5
+125 Marvin Vettori 11-2 over -155 Antonio Carlos Junior 7-2
+140 Mike Pyle 27-12-1 over -170 Alex Garcia 13-3
-200 Brandon Thatch 11-4 over +160 Niko Price 8-0
-120 Alex Oliveira 15-3-1 over Tim Means 26-7-1