UFC 207 takes place December 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Marketing for the event has been centered on crossover star Ronda Rousey, but the more seasoned MMA fan knows this is a talent filled card. Six out of the eight fighters on the main card are either current or former UFC Champions. Among some of the talent, UFC 207 may provide answers to some lingering questions. Let’s address these questions and navigate the ongoing storylines of UFC 207:
- Will Louis Smolka bounce back from his last loss? Hawaii’s Louis Smolka was coming off a four fight win streak and a dominant performance over fellow prospect Ben Nguyen when he met with UFC newcomer Brandon Moreno at UFC Fight Night: Lineker vs Dodson, in October. Smolka was tapped by Moreno with a guillotine choke in round 1. Those who have followed Smolka’s career are curious to know if he will bounce back from the loss when he faces Ray Borg on the Fox Sports 1 prelims for UFC 207. With back to back contrasting performances, there are questions about Smolka’s consistency and if he’s ready for stiffer competition up the ranks if he can get past Borg.
- Will Johnny Hendricks make weight? Johnny Hendricks will again be tempting fate when he hits the scales for a welterweight bout against #8 ranked Neil Magny. Hendricks has mismanaged his weight in the past and the results have been disastrous. Hendricks was taken to the hospital during a weight cut attempt at UFC 192, which left his bout with Tyron Woodly scrapped. Most recently he has had a poor showing against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs Thompson, and yet another failed attempt to make weight coupled with a decision loss against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 200. Hendricks seems to be beating himself at this point. UFC 207 should answer the question if he should finally accept the notion of moving up a weight class.
- Is ‘sea-level Cain’ truly better than Werdum? All of us are thinking it… Was Mexico City a fluke? This long awaited rematch should provide answers to that question. To give a little back story to the uninitiated– Fabricio Werdum beat the breaks off of Cain Velasquez at UFC 188 in Mexico City. It appeared Velasquez gassed out due to the altitude, which seemed to be a theme among many performing fighters that night. This is particularly uncharacteristic of Velasquez, who is known to be a heavyweight cardio powerhouse. Werdum, who trained for the fight in the altitude and was well adjusted seized on his opponent’s weakness, and finished the fight via first round submission to become the UFC heavyweight champion. Since then, Cain has gone on to win a TKO victory over Travis Browne while Werdum dropped the heavyweight belt in his first title defense to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198. He then got back into the win column against Travis Browne at UFC 203. This long awaited rematch will give many fans a sense of closure and lead them to conclude if the outcome of Werdum vs Velasquez’ first bout was circumstantial.
- Can Dominick Cruz essentially take out all of Team Alpha Male’s contenders? A highly anticipated bantamweight bout between Cody Garbrandt and Bantamweight Champion Dominic Cruz will serve as the co-main event for UFC 207. Dominic Cruz has mostly been a mainstay in the pound for pound talks over the years, even while sidelined with injuries. In Cruz’ last two fights, he has managed to win decisions against Team Alpha Male founder Uriah Faber, and former long-time TAM member TJ Dillashaw. Now, Cruz faces Team Alpha Male standout and #1 Bantamweight contender, Cody Garbrandt. Can Cruz continue to prove that he is TAM kryptonite, or can Garbrandt succeed where past training partners have failed?
- What should we expect from Ronda Rousey? Ronda Rousey is making her long awaited return, coming off a well-publicized KO loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 over a year ago. Since that loss, fans have questioned Ronda’s hunger in the fight game. Rousey, who seems to be making a full transition over to Hollywood acting and other projects, still has some unfinished business in MMA. She faces current Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes in the evening’s main event. People are curious as to which Ronda Rousey will show up; the skilled aggressive judoka who could armbar anything with an elbow, or the optimistic striker we’ve often seen doing focus mitt work lately, itching to dangerously test her developing hand skills on top tier competition. Meanwhile, the current Champ, Amanda Nunes, looks to show that she is not a paper champion in the absence of the most dominant female fighter in the division’s history. The only way to do this is to make an example out of Rousey. In that sense, Nunes has a compelling story in this fight that UFC promotion has overlooked in order to fully promote Rousey and capitalize on her mass appeal, which is a testament to Rousey’s popularity more than any sort of slight at Nunes. Does the fight game still have Rousey’s focus and attention, or has she evolved beyond it? Maybe UFC 207 can provide some clarity.