This will be the last UFC event in 2016 and what a better way to cap off the year then with the return of the former Women’s Bantamweight kingpin Ronda Rousey. She will try to reclaim her belt against the “Lioness” Amanda Nunes. Rousey makes her return to the Octagon over a year later since Holly Holm upset her. In that time, Miesha Tate defeated Jolly Holm to capture UFC gold and then Amanda Nunes defeated Miesha Tate. In other words, the Women’s Bantamweight Championship hasn’t seen stability since Rousey lost the title.
Co-Headlining, is a Championship bout in Bantamweight division between one of the pound for pound best in Dominick Cruz and a young contender in Cody Garbrandt. It’s good to see Cruz stay healthy, as this will be third fight in 2016. That’s significant given Cruz hasn’t fought three times in a year since 2010. Meanwhile, Team Alpha Male product Garbrandt looks to keep his undefeated record in tact while adding UFC gold to his young career. Garbrandt is coming into this bout on the heels of three straight first round knockouts.
Anyways, let’s get to the Predictions…I’m going to be much briefer than usual too!
UFC 207 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey – Stylistically, I like Nunes in this fight. Rousey is an aggressive fighter and it’s what cost her in her lone defeat to Holly Holm. She got countered in every striking exchange and I could see that happening in this fight too. But, Nunes is also aggressive and hits by far the hardest in the division. This is a tough fight to call, but I believe that Rousey has learned from her mistake and is going to use patience and her strengths in this fight. Get it to the ground and find a submission. So with that, I have Rousey winning via 1st round submission.
135 lbs.: Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt – This is a such an intriguing fight because of Garbrandt’s boxing abilities. He also packs a punch, which makes him so dangerous to strike with. However, Cruz is one of the most cerebral fighters. His striking is unpredictable and he has the ability to evade strikes like no other. He’s practically a ghost out there. Tie that in with his sneaky and effective takedowns and you have all the abilities to neutralize Cody Garbrandt. So with that, I have Cruz retaining via late stoppage victory.
135 lbs.: T.J. Dillashaw vs. John Lineker – Although the majority are probably leaning T.J. Dillashaw in this fight, I have Lineker. I think his ability to land strikes in volume tied with the fact that he’s incredible heavy handed presents issues for Dillashaw. And while I think Dillashaw is one of the very best in the weight class, his last fight he looked too hittable against Rafael Assuncao, a guy who hadn’t fought in two years. Dillashaw better implement a heavy dose of takedowns, otherwise it’s night night. So with that, I have Lineker via knockout.
170 lbs.: Tarec Saffiedine vs. Dong Hyun Kim – Haven’t seen “Stun Gun” in the octagon for sometime, but I like his skillset better than Saffiedine’s. While Saffiedine can keep distance and use leg kicks, he’s not really a dangerous fighter other than that. Kim has more tools and is wild enough to make this fight ugly and win. Plus, he’s got underrated grappling and in top control he’s suffocating. So with that, I have Kim via decision.
125 lbs.: Ray Borg vs. Louis Smolka – This fight could go either way. Borg is a grappling expert and I think that he could very well catch Smolka in a submission. However, Smolka’s top control can be smothering and difficult to escape from. On the feet, I edge Smolka, as Borg really has nothing in the striking department. If I were to make a prediction, i’d lean Smolka just because he can win this on the feet alone if he avoids grappling exchanges. So with that, I have Smolka via decision.
UFC 207 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny – Hendricks missed weight, his left hand went from concrete cinder blocks to marshallow puffs, his chin is slowly denigrating and I just don’t see a reason why to pick him here. As much as I’d like to see him bounce back and win, I think that this could be the end of a very solid champion and welterweight contender in Hendricks. So with that, I have Magny via decision.
185 lbs.: Marvin Vettori vs. Antonio Carlos Jr. – Never heard of Vettori, but I know “Shoeface”??? What a weird nickname, but I’m siding with him on the account that he finally taps into the potential we saw from him on TUF. So with that, I got Carlos Jr. via decision.
170 lbs.: Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia – As much as I’m rooting for Pyle, he’s borderline ancient and a stiff fighter at this point. The heavy handed Garcia should have a field day here, knocking out Pyle in the first round…Timber!
170 lbs.: Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price – Never heard of Price, but I know that Thatch needs a win in the worst way here. It’s such a shame that a talent of Thatch’s caliber has not performed well in the UFC. He’s a physically imposing fighter with scary striking. His grappling woes have cost him dearly, but I know nothing of Price and fully expect him to be on the receiving hand of a butt whipping. So with that, I have Thatch via KO!
UFC 207 Prelims on Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira – What a fun fight and scrap. Two willing strikers going toe to toe. However, I love Means striking arsenal (standing elbows are sick!) and improved takedown defense. I legitimately believe that he has the skill set to make a run at 170 lbs. So with that, I have Means eventually winning this fight via TKO!