411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey
After more than a year, Ronda Rousey is back! Rousey returns in the main event of UFC 207 to challenge bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. In the co-main event, Dominick Cruz defends his bantamweight championship against unbeaten Cody Garbrandt. Also at bantamweight, top contenders TJ Dillashaw and John Lineker clash. Plus, Dong Hyun Kim fights Tarec Saffiedine, Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg, and more!
THE PRELIMINARY CARD:
First prelim on UFC Fight Pass, rest on Fox Sports 1.
Welterweight Bout: Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira
Jeffrey Harris: Tim Means, TKO, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: Means, Decision
Welterweight Bout: Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price
Jeffrey Harris: Brandon Thatch, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Thatch, Decision
Middleweight Bout: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Marvin Vettori
Jeffrey Harris: Antonio Carlos Junior, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Junior, Submission, Round 2
Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia
Jeffrey Harris: Mike Pyle, TKO, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: Pyle, Decision
Welterweight Bout: Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny
Jeffrey Harris: Neil Magny, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Hendricks, Decision
THE MAIN CARD:
Flyweight Bout: Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg
Jeffrey Harris: This is a fight that promises to be a great flyweight contest and will feature a ton of action. Unfortunately, the flyweights still don’t get the respect and love they deserve from fans. And that’s unfortunate. However, I expect this to be a great fight. Both guys are very talented and exciting fighters, and they have cardio for days. Both fighters are coming off losses, but both men have a high finishing rate as well. I’m going with Smolka here. He did lose to Brandon Moreno, but I seem as the more dangerous and well-rounded opponent. Either way, I expect a great fight here.
Winner: Louis Smolka, TKO, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: This should be a good opener. Smolka was on a tear before a very surprising upset loss to Brandon Moreno in October. He looks to rebuild his momentum toward a title shot on Friday against Borg, who is very good on the ground, but will be giving up significant height and reach on the feet. I favor Smolka.
Winner: Smolka, Decision
Welterweight Bout: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Jeffrey Harris: Dong Hyun Kim has been a perennial top 10 contender at welterweight for a while. He’s won his last two fights, and his last four wins in the UFC were also finishes. He faces Tarec Saffiedine here, who has been having a hit and miss run as of late. Not only that, Saffiedine is coming off a decision loss to Rick Story. However, since Kim is ranked No. 9, a win here could send Saffiedine back into the top 10 of the UFC welterweight rankings. Saffiedine is an amazing striker and kickboxer, and he has devastating leg kicks. While I wouldn’t call Kim’s striking world class, he gets the job done more often than not. Not only that, he has knockout wins over the likes of John Hathaway and Erick Silva. Kim also has some pretty exceptional grappling skills, and I think that will help give him an edge over Saffiedine to win this fight. Stun gun gets the duke here.
Winner: Dong Hyun Kim, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Saffiedine has been one of the most disappointing fighters that came over to the UFC from Strikeforce. The last Strikeforce welterweight champion, he’s been riddled with injuries since Strikeforce shut down in January 2013 and traded wins and losses in his four UFC bouts. Kim is really good, occupying a space just below the division’s elite. He’s a strong judoka, and lord help you if he unleashes the stun gun. Saffiedine should give Kim problems when they’re fighting at range, but I believe Kim will close the distance and win the fight.
Winner: Kim, Decision
Bantamweight Bout: TJ Dillashaw vs. John Lineker
Jeffrey Harris: I’m picking TJ Dillashaw here. John Lineker is good, and he hits hard. However, he’s also inconsistent. Not only that, he has tons of trouble making weight. He didn’t even make weight in his last fight against Jon Dodson, and that’s after he struggled to make weight at flyweight and continually couldn’t make weight there. Dillashaw is very well rounded. People forget that he had a very close fight with Dominick Cruz. Not only that, he has knockout power, great wrestling and exceptional grappling skills as well. I see Dillashaw dominating and winning this one.
Winner: TJ Dillashaw, Decision
Dan Plunkett: John Lineker is the man. He’s a small guy that can never seems to be able to make weight no matter the weight class and throws his punches like his life is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, he’s fighting TJ Dillashaw, who is the best guy in the division outside of Dominick Cruz. Lineker’s explosive attacks may create some interesting moments, but I see Dillashaw picking him apart.
Winner: Dillashaw, Decision
UFC Bantamweight Championship Bout: Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt
Jeffrey Harris: So, Cody Garbrandt gets an opportunity to fight Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title. While Cody Garbrandt has been pretty impressive in the UFC so far, I do not see him winning here. Cruz probably had one of the worst layoffs that no fighter would ever ask for. And yet, he was able to come back, win the title and defend it again against his longtime rival Urijah Faber. Garbrandt does have knockout power, but Cruz just has a difficult and evasive style that people have trouble dealing with. I think that will be the case again here for Garbrandt. Cruz does his usual work, and he out-points Garbrandt to win a decision.
Winner: Dominick Cruz, Decision
Dan Plunkett: I’d prefer to see TJ Dillashaw in the spot opposite Cruz, but the build to this fight has been tremendous with Cruz masterfully talking trash and Garbrandt getting angry. Garbrandt tore through the lower and mid-levels of the division in short order following his January 2015 UFC debut. He’s knocked out four of his five opponents in that time, including three consecutive first round stoppages going into this fight. However, he’s never fought anyone close to elite in the division, much less near the level of Cruz. Of course, Garbrandt could catch Cruz, but Cruz is really tough to hit. I expect this to be one sided.
Winner: Cruz, TKO, Round 4
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey
Jeffrey Harris: Amanda Nunes defends her title for the first time agains the returning Ronda Rousey. If Nunes has a flaw, it’s that she tends to wilt in the later rounds. If she gets into deep waters, that’s when she has more trouble. So, Rousey could’ve have a considerable edge here if she can weather any type of storm from Nunes. That being said, Nunes hits like a freight train, and she tends to start really aggressive. Rousey’s weakest area tends to be her striking. Not to mention, she has very questionable coaching and cornermen. I could be going out on a limb here, but I’m just not feeling Rousey for this fight, especially after the loss and long layoff. I’m predicting a win here for Nunes.
Winner: Amanda Nunes, TKO, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: I certainly don’t have any answers to the questions about Ronda Rousey’s mental state heading into this fight. If she’s intensely focused on the fight, it boosts her chances; if she’s still reeling from the loss to Holm 13 months ago, she’ll likely lose. At this stage, we don’t know which it is, and even after we know the result we may not have any clue as to her mentality. What we do know is that Nunes is an extremely tough opponent for even an ideally prepared Rousey. She’s a better striker than Ronda and has legit power, but her striking is nothing like Holm’s, whose striking gave Ronda fits. Nunes is also strong and tough to take down. On the ground, she’s a BJJ black belt and has a brutal top game. Her greatest liability has always been her conditioning. If Rousey makes it past round one, the odds may swing more toward her direction.
Of course, Rousey is superior athletically, and is better than anyone at taking someone to the ground and attacking with a submission before the opponent realizes they’ve hit the ground. However, Rousey’s ultra-aggressive style makes for some mistakes. She’s given up positions on attacks that weren’t exactly high percentage; doing that against Amanda Nunes could open her up to some very unpleasant ground and pound or even a submission.
This is a game of inches, and one key difference between these two fighters is their camps. Against popular sentiment, Rousey has remained with Glendale Fighting Club and head coach Edmund Tarverdyan, and spent time in this camp in relative seclusion in the mountains. Comparatively, Nunes responded to a 2014 loss to Cat Zingano by switching camps to the reputed American Top Team. She has won all four fights with that camp, where she trains with some of the best fighters in the sport.
There are without question paths for Rousey to win this fight and win it impressively. However, I see more paths to victory for Nunes.
Winner: Nunes, TKO, Round 1
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