UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey will close out the calendar year for the UFC in Las Vegas as one of the biggest names in the company makes her return to the octagon. Ronda Rousey hasn’t fought since losing the women’s bantamweight belt to Holly Holm in November 2015 in shocking fashion, but she’s finally returned to take on current champion Amanda Nunes.
Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will look to defend against Cody Garbrandt as well, but a rematch between former heavyweight champions Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum was taken off the card as the Nevada State Athletic Commission concluded that Velasquez wasn’t fit to fight.
Nunes (13-4) has won four in a row, including a dominant submission of Miesha Tate to take the belt in May, but the champ still finds herself as a +110 underdog. She is very aggressive but she might have to take it down a notch against Rousey (12-1), the armbar specialist who was handed a lesson in striking by Holm. Rousey, an Olympic judoka, is very talented and everyone knows that, but there are questions about her mental makeup after Holm knocked her out with a head kick.
Rousey also failed to do any pre-fight media leading up to this bout, which made people question how mentally fit she is for this fight. Is her heart still in fighting? Can she regain her form where she was seemingly unstoppable in the octagon? Or is she now the fighter who is haunted by her one loss?
Nunes isn’t going to let her sit back and get settled but she also can’t get too aggressive and get taken to the mat, where Rousey has flourished in the past with her armbars. Rousey is a -140 favorite in what should be a truly fascinating match.
The second title fight comes from the bantamweight division, where Cruz (22-1) has been the king whenever he has been healthy. Garbrandt (10-0) is the next to challenge Cruz, who is known as a more cerebral fighter who gets enough points to win. Garbrandt, who is a +175 underdog, has been a knockout machine as nine of his 10 wins have come via TKO/KO. Furthermore, Garbrandt is trained at Team Alpha Male, which is headed by the recently retired Urijah Faber, who handed Cruz his lone MMA loss in March 2007.
However, Cruz also beat Faber twice – including in his last match in June – so there is definitely a personal element to what should be a great match as Garbrandt would love to get a win for his mentor. Cruz is currently posted as a -225 favorite for the bout.
The Velasquez-Werdum rematch would have been great for UFC 207, but there are a couple other fights on the card worth watching. Former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw faces John Lineker, and the winner could be in line to face the winner of Cruz-Garbrandt. Dillashaw is -235 chalk for this bout.
Flyweights Louis Smolka and Ray Borg will open up the main card as the UFC looks for suitable challengers for champion Demetrious Johnson. Borg has been given the slight edge by oddsmakers at -135.
Meanwhile, former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks headlines the preliminary card against Neil Magny where both fighters come in at -115. Also from the welterweight division, Dong Hyun Kim is a -145 favorite for his meeting with Tarec Saffiedine.