UFC 207 tips: The best bets as Ronda Rousey makes her Octagon return
The American racked up 12 consecutive wins before losing her belt, and has all the tools required to reclaim it...
Amanda Nunes v Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey is back, and immediately fighting for the title that she lost to Holly Holm in stunning fashion at UFC 193 in November 2015.
How that knockout defeat has affected the 29-year-old remains to be seen.
But if she is the same fighter who racked up 12 consecutive wins before dropping the belt, she has all the tools required to beat Amanda Nunes.
The Brazilian has won four fights in a row, but she has not faced a grappler as accomplished as Rousey, who has nine submission wins in her 13 professional bouts.
Nunes is a fine champion, and her striking and wrestling ability should ensure that this fight goes into the later rounds.
But it can’t be forgotten that Rousey was one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history, who not long ago beat three of the best in her division inside 35 seconds in successive fights.
If she is still motivated, it’s hard to bet against her bouncing back and reclaiming that title.
Rousey to win by submission –
Dominick Cruz v Cody Garbrandt
The co-main event is a bantamweight title bout between two fighters with a combined total of 32 victories and just one defeat.
Current champion Dominick Cruz might be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The 31-year-old has won 13 consecutive bouts, and is a master of grinding his opponents down, avoiding punishment and picking up decision victories.
Nine of his last 13 wins have gone the distance.
Garbrandt is one of the most powerful punchers that Cruz has ever faced, and the 25-year-old has nine stoppage wins in his unblemished 10-fight MMA career to date.
He lacks the experience to beat a seasoned professional like Cruz, though, and a unanimous decision win for the champion is the likeliest outcome here.
Cruz to win by decision –
TJ Dillashaw v John Lineker
In another meeting of a cerebral striker and a knockout specialist, former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw should see off the heavy-handed John Lineker.
The 30-year-old is one of the most technically sound fighters in the UFC, and was on a four-fight winning streak before losing his title in a split decision loss to Dominick Cruz.
In Lineker, he faces a brawler that has won six in a row, but whose boxing and grappling skills are limited.
The Brazilian will likely need a knockout, but Dillashaw won’t be stopped easily.
He has only been beaten inside the distance once in his career – in his fifth professional fight against John Dodson – and five of his last six bouts have gone into the last round.
With his superior footwork and speed, expect the American to pick Lineker apart for three rounds and earn a shot at the winner of the co-main event.
Dillashaw to win by decision –
Dong Hyun Kim v Tarec Saffediene
Both these welterweights need victories to move into the upper echelons of their division, but it is the hard-hitting Dong Hyun Kim who will likely strengthen his chances of earning a title shot.
The experienced South Korean already has 12 victories in the UFC and only three defeats, one of which came after he suffered a severe muscle spasm that forced him to retire from a 2012 fight with Demian Maia.
Kim’s high-pressure style makes fights uncomfortable for his opponents, but it does leave him susceptible to being caught on the counter, as he was by Tyron Woodley in his last defeat.
But while kickboxer Taric Saffediene can fight on the back foot, he has been overpowered by bigger fighters in recent bouts.
Rick Story and Rory MacDonald both managed to close the distance on the Belgian to secure victories, and Kim should be able to follow a similar game plan to pick up the victory.
He will pressure Saffediene throughout, and if he catches the 30-year-old on his suspect chin, he will knock him out.
Kim to win by KO, TKO or DQ –