CURRENT RECORD 185-104-3
The final card of 2016 takes place in the T-Mobile Arena, in the home of combat sports; Las Vegas. UFC 207 marks the return of the once most dominant woman in WMMA; Ronda Rousey. “Rowdy” makes her first appearance inside the Octagon in 13 months since suffering a devastating knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 195; losing her undefeated streak and title in the process. Defending her newly acquired belt for the first time against Rousey is one of the best strikers in the division; Amanda Nunes. Nunes surprised the world when she stopped Miesha Tate in the first round at UFC 200 to claim the women’s bantamweight title and accepted this fight believing she could defeat Rousey and become the new icon of the women’s division. In the co-main event, another title is on the line, this time in the men’s bantamweight division as the highly anticipated matchup between champion Dominick Cruz and top prospect Cody Garbrandt takes place. Elsewhere on the card, former champion TJ Dillashaw takes on “Hands of Stone” John Lineker with both men knowing a win could put them next in line for a title shot, Johny Hendricks is in desperate need of a win as he takes on the highly talented Neil Magny, flyweight standouts Louis Smolka and Ray Borg clash and the “Dirty Bird” Tim Means takes on “Cowboy” Alex Oliveria in a welterweight scrap. A great way to end 2016 with a stacked card so be sure not to miss out and tune in.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course, put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
AMANDA NUNES vs. RONDA ROUSEY
As always Ronda Rousey is dominating the headlines, except this time around she isn’t the champion. Amanda Nunes, the current champion, has barely been mentioned in the build-up to this fight, despite being the title holder and potentially being a very dangerous opponent for Rousey. Nunes is a fearsome striker with lightening quick hands and she has ten first round stoppages to her name. Since joining the ranks of American Top Team, Nunes’ all round game has begun to flourish, she now controls fights and fights them at her pace; a tactic she will need to invoke against Rousey. “Rowdy” was once the most feared women on the planet before Holly Holm dismantled her and sent Rousey into hiding for almost a year. Question marks have always surrounded Ronda’s stand up but everything else is almost impeccable, the biggest problem coming into this fight is her state of mind. On her day Rousey will beat anyone but her biggest adversary may be inside her head, if she can quieten down those voices of doubt, I believe she can put Nunes to the sword but if she allows herself to get sucked into her own doubt (like I believe happened against Holm) then Nunes could capitalize and finish her twice as quick. Nunes has every chance of finishing this fight but I believe Rousey will be more focused than ever and finish Nunes early, most likely by arm bar.
Rousey by submission.
DOMINICK CRUZ vs. CODY GARBRANDT
After all the bad blood, the endless insults traded and attempted scuffles, the time to settle the score is here. The long-time king of the bantamweight division Dominick Cruz will defend his prized possession against the man who believes he is the rightful heir to the throne; Cody Garbrandt. Dominick Cruz is one of the best athletes in mixed martial arts, his combined footwork and speed makes him so elusive and his knowledge of the fight game has always put him a step ahead of his opponents. Cruz tore his ACL in both knees meaning he only fought once in nearly five years but since regaining full health and returning to the Octagon earlier this year, “The Dominator” has looked better than ever. This is a huge step up in class for Cody Garbrandt, he is certainly worthy of it considering he is currently 10-0 and has knocked out 9 of those opponents but this will be his stiffest test to date. The one thing we can take for certain about Garbrandt is he has great boxing and genuine power in his fists but apart from that he hasn’t really showcased any of his other attributes. “No Love” has yet to be really tested inside the cage and he comes up against a man who is so well rounded and versatile that it could result in a very long night for Garbrandt. Unless “No Love” connects flush early in the fight I don’t see this going any other way than a Cruz victory.
Cruz by decision.
TJ DILLASHAW vs. JOHN LINEKER
This matchup pits two of the finest in the division against one another and could lead to the winner fighting for a title shot next. TJ Dillashaw is a former champion with lightening quick movement, he moves in and out at ferocious speed, he is hard to hit and has a great wrestling base. Dillashaw will need to ensure his footwork is at the top of its game on Friday because he can’t stand idle against the man nicknamed “Hands of Stone”. Lineker has been a revelation since stepping up to the 135 bracket defeating the likes of Rivera, Font, McDonald and most recently John Dodson to extend his winning streak to six. Lineker is by far the heaviest hitter in the division and he comes with the simple game plan of walking an opponent down and swinging from the rafters. But Lineker will need to be quicker to catch Dillashaw, I expect TJ to jab and move all night but if he makes a mistake expect Lineker to throw everything he’s got. I think Lineker has looked better than ever of late and we know he can take a punch so I’m going with Lineker sending Dillashaw crashing to the canvas.
Lineker by knockout.
DONG HYUN KIM vs. TAREC SAFFIEDINE
Two of the best in the welterweight division will face off, hoping an impressive win will put them on the title trail for 2017. Dong Hyun Kim was scheduled to face Gunnar Nelson at UFC Belfast before an injury to Nelson resulted in the bout being scrapped, instead Hyun Kim will know face a stiffer task in Tarec Saffiedine. Hyun Kim has fought and beaten some of the best in the welterweight division, he has a solid all round game that he leads through his boxing. For this fight he will have a six inch reach advantage and he will look to keep Saffiedine at the end of his jab for the duration of the fight. Tarec Saffiedine was the last Strikeforce welterweight champion but has yet to transfer that form into the UFC, going 2-2 since signing. Saffiedine is a dangerous kick boxer with a fine ground game and he likes to work his way inside an opponent’s guard; something he will need to utilize against the taller Hyun Kim. It will be interesting to see where about this fight takes place but I think Saffiedine can do enough to out point Hyun Kim and claim the decision victory.
Saffiedine by decision.
LOUIS SMOLKA vs. RAY BORG
Two of the flyweights brightest prospects come toe to toe as Louis Smolka takes on Ray Borg. Smolka was riding a four fight win streak before Brandon Moreno surprisingly made him tap out at Fight Night 96. Smolka is tall for the division and his height has allowed him to control fights and dictate where exactly they take place. He has a wicked jab and is more than handful on the mat; he dominates in the scramble and effortlessly finds submission. Ray Borg came into the UFC undefeated but was put to the sword on his debut against Dustin Ortiz; he then went on a three fight winning streak before losing to Justin Scoggins back in February. When facing Ray Borg the fight is destined for the mat, it’s where he is most comfortable and six of his nine victories have come by submission. This fight should be a battle of submissions and I think Smolka will have a slight edge. I think he simply just took his eye of the ball against Moreno and evidently got caught, something I don’t think he will allow happen again.
Smolka by submission.
Best of the Rest.
Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny
Magny to win.
Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia
Garcia to win.
Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Marvin Vettori
Carlos Junior to win.
Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price
Thatch to win.
Alex Oliveria vs. Tim Means
Oliveria to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 10 predictions in an accumulator is about 395/1.
The inbetweener bet: Magny, Smolka, Cruz and Rousey to win is 8/1.
The conservative bet: Lineker by KO or on points is 23/10 or Rousey to win by submission is 11/10.
Don’t forget to keep updated on all things “Ultimate Fight Chat” by liking and following all the links on the homepage.
And remember “Ultimate Fight Chat- A Guide to Becoming an Armchair Expert” is FREE to download from here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645687