Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC 207, as Ronda Rousey returns to the Octagon for the first time in over one year to challenge Amanda Nunes for the women’s bantamweight championship. Amanda Nunes (Record: 13-4, +110 Underdog, Power Ranking: A) The 28-year-old Salvador, Bahia, Brazil-born bantamweight enters her first UFC women’s bantamweight title defense on a four-fight winning streak. Nunes last fought in July 2017 when she headlined UFC 200 and defeated Miesha Tate to become the promotion’s champion at 135 pounds. In the women’s bantamweight division, there are very few knockout threats. With that said, Nunes may be the most feared striker in the division. Of her 13 career wins, nine of them have come by knockout. She’s big for the weight class with a 69-inch reach and uses her size well to wind up and land heavy strikes. She can absolutely knock out an opponent on the feet, but where she does her best work is on the ground from top control. Nunes averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon and succeeds in scoring takedowns at a 38 percent clip. From her solid wrestling game, she has excellent ground-and-pound. She does a very good job at advancing positions to allow herself an opportunity to wail down on her opponent from top control to have an opportunity at a stoppage win due to strikes. Nunes is also a high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Her skill set was on display in her title fight with Tate when she quickly latched on a submission to beat her opponent. Nunes is excellent in the first round of fights and typically able to start off with a lead in her bouts. What has been the biggest hole in her game in the past has been conditioning. She slows down significantly in the second round and is running on empty in the third round. In every single third round she has been in during her professional career, she has been out-struck decisively. Ronda Rousey (Record: 12-1, -130 Favorite, Power Ranking: A) The longtime UFC women’s bantamweight champion defended her title belt five consecutive times prior to facing Holly Holm at UFC 193. Holm dethroned Rousey with a head kick and follow-up strikes to give Rousey her first professional defeat. This is Rousey’s first fight since her loss to Holm in November 2015. A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in judo, Rousey was the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo. With that sport as her base, Rousey’s MMA game begins with her judo throws and grappling. She looks to get a hold of her opponents and work in her high level judo to get her opponents to the mat. She averages a whopping 6.43 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon and secures 68 percent of takedown attempts. Both marks rank right near the top of the sport. When on the mat in top control, Rousey is at her very best. She maneuvers on the ground looking to isolate one of her opponent’s arms so she can secure her trademark armbar submission. Rousey has earned nine of her 12 wins by armbar submission. On the feet, Rousey has proven to be one of the heavier power punchers with her knockouts of Bethe Correia and Sara McMann. Rousey has excelled as a fighter that can bully opponents from the onset and dominate fights. In her bout against Holm, Rousey struggled when Holm landed early. She over-extended several times, creating openings for Holm to land. Endurance is also a question mark with Rousey. She’s a fast starter but does tend to slow down as soon as the second round. Matchup This title clash is a really interesting matchup for two key reasons. The first reason is that both fighters are fast starters and tend to slow down quickly in their fights. Nunes is certainly the better stand-up striker with better hands. She will be looking to keep this fight on the feet and score early in this bout. The polar opposite is true for Rousey. While she can throw on the feet, she has a major advantage on the ground against any of her opponents. Her armbar technique is right at the top of the sport when it comes to effective submission technique. If she can get Nunes to the ground, she has a very good chance to end the fight and do so early. Both fighters have the ability to implement their game plans and succeed in winning the fight utilizing their strengths: Nunes by knockout and Rousey by submission. The second reason I’m really intrigued by this fight comes down to Rousey’s mentality for this bout. Rousey hasn’t fought in over 12 months. After her loss to Holm, she struggled to talk to the media and share her thoughts on the fight. I believe she is a fighter that excels when confident but really struggles when things get difficult. The Holm loss was difficult for her, as it was the first time she faced real adversity in MMA. One has to wonder if she’s ready for this bout. Her unwillingness to do interviews and promote the fight like other Pay-Per-View main event fighters have done makes me have further questions about her readiness. Nunes is a fighter that requires Rousey’s full preparation. Nunes is as dangerous an opponent that Rousey has faced. Nunes is slightly bigger than Rousey and physically won’t be intimidated by her opponent. If Nunes is able to land anything early in this bout, I don’t see this fight going well for the former champion. Given all the factors, I believe Nunes wins this fight, but given Rousey’s ability to secure submissions, this is a difficult fight to bet.
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