Does absence make the heart grow fonder?
Ronda Rousey, former God-Empress of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's Bantamweight division, returns to the cage for the first time in 13 months to face current champion Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 207, which takes place this Friday night (Dec. 30, 2016) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The five-fight pay-per-view (PPV) event also features a second Bantamweight title bout as resurgent ruler Dominick Cruz looks to once again crush Team Alpha Male's dreams against its latest challenger Cody Garbrandt. And that's not even mentioning the terrific clash between former 135-pound champion T.J. Dillashaw and brawler supreme John Lineker.
We've got one more chance to salvage this mess of a year. Let's give it a shot.
What Went Wrong At UFC on FOX 22?
Two straight weeks in the black? When’s the last time that happened?
Alan Jouban, Michelle Waterson and Sultan Aliev all came through last time around. James Moontasri and Sage Northcutt did not.
I was on the Moontasri train longer than I probably should have been -- he should have won his debut against Joe Ellenberger and his only other losses were to a pair of beasts in Kevin Lee and Alex Oliveira. Losing to Alex Morono is a lot less forgivable. "The Great White" isn’t a bad fighter by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s one a counter specialist like "Moonwalker" should have dominated -- Morono throws punches with his arms fully extended and has thoroughly mediocre wrestling. I overestimated Moontasri and slightly underestimated Morono’s ability to adapt and do damage in the clinch.
The second round of Northcutt vs. Mickey Gall was basically how I expected the whole fight to go up until the knockdown. Northcutt made the mistake of shooting in as a response and his subpar defensive grappling reared its head once again. Never betting on him again until (and unless) he sets up shop in a real gym.
UFC 207 Odds For The Undercard:
Neil Magny (-115) vs. Johny Hendricks (-105)
Antonio Carlos Jr. (-150) vs. Marvin Vettori (+130)
Alex Garcia (-175) vs. Mike Pyle (+155)
Brandon Thatch (-175) vs. Niko Price (+155)
Alex Oliveira (-110) vs. Tim Means (-110)
Thoughts: Alex Oliveira was my risky pick for the event, but then he went from +100 to -110. Instead, let’s work with Antonio Carlos and maybe Neil Magny.
I won’t deny that "Cara de Sapato" has underperformed a bit, but I still believe he has enormous potential. With the power to dispatch Light Heavyweights and phenomenal submission prowess, all he really needs is to shore up his cardio and his takedowns. Even without substantial improvement from his last fight, though, he wins here because Vettori is eager to engage him in his wheelhouse. The Italian’s aggressive pursuit of the submission at the expense of position is perfect for Carlos, who should lock something up early.
I’m a bit on the fence about Magny, mostly because of how devastating his loss to Lorenz Larkin was, but everything else seems to be going in his favor. Hendricks has looked a shell of the man who traded blows with Robbie Lawler, struggling to land either takedowns or forceful left hands in recent fights. Worse, "Big Rigg" is giving up nearly a foot of reach and, unlike fellow rangy slugger Carlos Condit, Magny has the takedown defense to shut down long-range takedowns. I say he’s worth a bit of an investment.
UFC 207 Odds For The Main Card:
Ronda Rousey (-130) vs. Amanda Nunes (+110)
Dominick Cruz (-225) vs. Cody Garbrandt (+185)
T.J. Dillashaw (-245) vs. John Lineker (+205)
Dong Hyun Kim (-145) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (+125)
Ray Borg (-135) vs. Louis Smolka (+115)
Thoughts: I expect both champions to retain their titles, although I’m a little more confident in Dominick Cruz. Here’s why: In a vacuum, Ronda Rousey vs. Amanda Nunes is an even fight. Rousey’s iffy striking defense and lack of lateral movement appear to spell doom against Nunes’s pile driver-like fists, but Nunes has cardio issues and winds up in the clinch more than is advisable.
We’re not in a vacuum, though -- we’re in a world where Rousey is coming off a one-sided thrashing and a year-long layoff. She’s even still training under the same incompetent goon who led her to that loss. Nunes, on the other hand, is coming off the biggest win of her career, undoubtedly bursting with confidence.
For all of "The Lioness’s" flaws, there’s too much going her way. If she’s ever going to beat Rousey, she’s going to do so on Friday night.
I’ve underestimated Cody Garbrandt before, to be fair. At the same time, Dominick Cruz is a damn freak -- the guy came back from years of imploded knees and looked better than ever. He’s beaten Garbrandt’s teachers before, has unparalleled fight IQ, and has the composure to follow a gameplan in the face of wild aggression.
Garbrandt gets away with a fairly limited striking attack because of speed and power. That’s just not enough against the best defensive fighter the Bantamweight division has ever seen, one who also has nigh-unstoppable takedowns to better blunt "No Love’s" onslaught. All Cruz, all day.
UFC 207 Best Bets:
- Single bet -- Amanda Nunes: Bet $30 to make $33
- Parlay -- Antonio Carlos Junior and Dominick Cruz: Bet $50 to make $70.50
- Single bet -- Neil Magny: Bet $34.50 to make $30
At least we've got a chance to end this year right. Onward and upward, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC 207 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you've got riding on the sportsbook.