MMA Fight: UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey
Key Matches: Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey
When: Saturday, December 30, 2016
Time: 10PM EST
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Amanda Nunes, (+145), 13-4 (9 KOs, 3 Submissions) vs. Ronda Rousey, (-165), 12-1 (3 KOs, 9 Submissions)
Amanda Nunes defends her UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship against former champion Ronda Rousey in the main event on UFC 207 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It's a huge event, as the woman who made this division and women's MMA popular in the first place tries to regain her belt against the new champion. Rousey, 29, lost her last fight, with the head-kick KO suffered at the hands of Holly Holm in November 2015 living on as an indelible image in the sport. In the meanwhile, the belt passed from Holm to Miesha Tate and then onto new 135-pound champ Amanda Nunes, 28. This is no easy re-entrance exam for the ex-champ.
The case of Ronda Rousey is an interesting yet familiar one. As often is the case with ultra-dominant fighters, their stars often burn out sooner than forecasted. Rousey fell into a lot of familiar traps. This is a sport that requires singular focus. While she's off making movies, doing interviews, and whatever other demands that come with being an MMA megastar, fighters like Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes were working on their game. So there was the commitment factor, as Rousey seemed to never turn down an interview or a shot to be in some god-awful movie.
And in the course of trying to please so many people, perhaps she wore herself out. She was dressing, acting, and speaking in a way that didn't seem genuine and she was trying to be too many things at the same time. On one hand, why not take advantage of the spoils of stardom? That might be OK in other fields, but her life was reminiscent of Rocky III before the first Clubber Lang fight, where a wayward Rocky was caught up in the pomp and circumstance while his opponent was in some dungeon working away. We saw what happened to Rocky and that's what happened to Rousey.
The KO Rousey suffered was bad physically, a really brutal stoppage. But the mental toll was perhaps worse. Again, with the ultra-dominant fighters, the fall is harder and Rousey's fall rang of the Humpty-Dumpty variety, where putting her back together might not ever happen. The reports of her mental stage even extended to suicidal thoughts. You would think before the loss to Holm that if she lost, she'd be chomping at the bit to get back in there and exact revenge. That didn't happen. You would think a fighter who accomplished the things Ronda was able to do would have a certain mental fortitude, an ability to acknowledge the err of her ways, while also acknowledging all the great things she did.
To go from a punk kid to an MMA superstar is a long walk to make. That takes a lot of ability and wherewithal. The concern is that Ronda's confidence and sense-of-worth were of the front-running variety. Can she bounce back? That's the key. Her rise was as meteoric as it gets, with a run of dominance beyond anything really ever seen in any form of fighting. The gap between Ronda and her peers was on a level of a Secretariat. It's in Babe Ruth territory. The image of Holm laying her out is the freshest in people's minds, but let's not forget the highlights. Leading up to the Holm fight, she had beaten her last three challengers in a combined 1:04. Only two of her previous opponents had so much as lasted past 1:06 in any fight!
In addition to all the outside factors draining Rousey's energy reserves was a misguided career as far as actual fighting goes. No offense to her team, who are unquestionably a knowledgeable group of people, but it seemed like she could have received better guidance on her style and her approach in the Holm fight. She made it in this business with her judo skills and submissions, tossing girls around in a matter of mere seconds with an almost effortless air to it. At some point, she fell in love with her striking and it even resulted in several smashing KOs. She found out that slapping around Alexis Davis and exchanging strikes with the likes of Holly Holm are two different ballgames. While it's good that she expanded her game, the overall hubris that comes with mega-success took her out of her wheelhouse.
The carrying on about Rousey shouldn't infer that this fight is all about her. Amanda Nunes is a full-load and perhaps the most-dangerous fighter in the division. But we know what she does and what level of menace she brings into the octagon. The real question is which Ronda Rousey turns up. But make no mistake—Nunes is dangerous. She's a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and can hit hard—a dangerous combination of traits. She's a big 135-pounder with broad shoulders and a large frame. She knows how to throw punches with power as well as any woman in the sport. Without being disparaging, her punches look as close to a man's as anyone in the division.
Styles make fights. Holly Holm was able to beat Ronda due to a very specific style that Nunes doesn't really possess. Holm was able to use her boxing and movement, eventually timing the fight-ending strike. Nunes is very aggressive, a trait that has never been a problem for Rousey. It's going be very interesting to see if Nunes starts off fast, as is her custom, with Rousey having dusted off so many opponents in quick fashion.
Nunes deserves full credit for the win over Miesha Tate, who may have started heading downhill after getting to the mountain-top in her previous fight. Nunes is just 13-4, though she's better than her won-loss record would suggest. For what it's worth, she lost to both Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis by TKO—a pair of fighters Rousey needed a total of 30 seconds to beat. Those types of comparisons can be misleading, but that's a pretty jarring discrepancy against common opponents. But with a win over top-flight contender Valentina Shevchenko and the first-round TKO over Tate in her last fights, Nunes' credentials aren't really in question.
To take a position against Rousey at this point at an underdog price is a move that has a lot of merit. The loss to Holm in 2015 seemed damaging in a really profound way. And there haven't been a lot of positive bits of news since then regarding her state-of-mind or commitment to the sport. At the same time, the layoff probably had a positive affect, while jumping back in there quickly would have been the bolder move. Maybe it worked out and allowed her to get her bearings back. At the end of the day, it's hard for me to dismiss the body of work achieved before the Holm loss on the basis of one bad night, however damaging it may have been. I'm going with Ronda in this one.
Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Ronda Rousey at -165. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Nunes vs. Rousey fight at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!