In lieu of a lengthy analysis of the historiography of both women headlining the main event of UFC 207 I think it best to offer a quick breakdown of what to expect. The heavily marketed Friday night Pay Per View card features the return of Former Champion Ronda Rousey challenging current Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. By putting aside the clever advertisements, various story lines, and the hype trains surrounding both fighters, I feel we can get to the heart of this pivotal match up.
Amanda Nunes looked incredible when she beat Miesha Tate to claim gold at UFC 200. She had solid performances against both Valentina Shevchenko and Sara McMann before that. The “Lioness” also trains out of one of the greatest MMA camps in existence: ATT. Her striking is always improving and her ground game is airtight. She has historically looked very strong in the first few rounds of a fight but has a tendency to noticeably slow down.
Nunes’ high level Judo also means she should be familiar with the take-downs of Rousey. While Nunes’ confidence is clearly high, it is impossible to determine just how she will react under what is undoubtedly the most pressure she has ever had to preform under.
Ronda Rousey looks to be in the best shape of her career. Her refusal to participate in any media functions (except those handpicked by her) also means her full attention is on this fight.
Unlike Nunes’, “Rowdy” trains out of a camp with a terrible reputation: the Glendale Fight Club. Her head coach has received a great deal of criticism for the ways in which he trains his stable of fighters – a boxing heavy style with little to no kicks. The recent success rate of the camp also speaks for itself. We know of the Californian’s accolades as well as a rough idea of the limitations in her stand up.
Obviously, the biggest question coming into this fight is Rousey’s mental fortitude. Following her loss at UFC 193 to Holly Holm, Rousey’s “mental weakness” was repeatedly emphasized. The question is not whether she is capable of winning, her reign as Bantamweight Champion is case and point. The question is which woman will we see on Friday night?
Both Rousey and Nunes have historically been strong first round fighters. I give Nunes a sizable advantage on the feet and Rousey a moderate advantage on the ground.
I like Rousey’s chances at getting the fight to the ground but I don’t believe her to be significantly better than the BJJ black-belt Nunes- except maybe when it comes to her trademark arm-bar.
All the facts on the ground seem to lead to a victory for the Brazilian – perhaps even a knockout. And yet, I can’t help but feel like Rousey will rise to the challenge and embrace the pressure that once defined and defeated her. Despite everything that Nunes’ has done, UFC 207 is very much the Ronda Rousey show.
It remains to be seen whether or not that show is the one we were used to seeing or a repeat of the one we saw on November 14, 2015.