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UFC 207 predictions, preview, and analysis

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Out with “Notorious,” in with “Rowdy.”

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welcomes former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey back to the Octagon for its UFC 207 pay-per-view (PPV) event, set for later tonight (Fri., Dec. 30, 2016) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After more than a year on the sidelines, Rousey will attempt to capture the crown from current division titleholder Amanda Nunes, who crushed Miesha Tate at UFC 200 … not long after “Cupcake” choked out Holly Holm.

That’s one hot potato.

In the UFC 207 PPV co-main event, scheduled for five grueling rounds, UFC men’s bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz tries to avoid the devastating knockout power of undefeated division contender Cody Garbrandt.

Expect a busy night in “Sin City.”

For a closer look at the UFC 207 “Prelims” on UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1, Patty Stumberg brought the heat with his preview and predictions here. Odds and betting lines for “Nunes vs. Rousey” can be crunched here.

Now it’s time to break down the UFC 207 main card.

135 lbs.: UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (13-4) vs. “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (12-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: In order for me to believe Ronda Rousey will lose to Amanda Nunes, I have to first believe that “Rowdy” no longer has all the strengths that made her the most dominant female fighter of all time. In addition, I must also believe that “Lioness” no longer has all the weaknesses that kept her from winning fights against Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis.

Sorry, I don’t.

Rousey did not lose to Holly Holm because she was the inferior fighter. She lost because she employed the most idiotic gameplan in the history of idiotic gameplans. Seriously, it bordered on lunacy. Holm was a world champion boxer with exceptional footwork who is known for her ruthless counterpunching. So what did “Rowdy” do? She walked her down, hands low, and tried to be the Olympic boxer she’ll never, ever be.

How does this guy keep a straight face?

There is a reason Rousey was able to make a mockery of the women’s bantamweight division. She was, and is, an Olympic-caliber athlete with a submission game that is so superior, it cannot be defended. Sure, she took a year off from fighting, but for a fighter who has trained judo since the age of six, one year is hardly enough to erode the muscle memory instilled from a lifetime of practice. Rousey also has a solid chin, which helped her overcome her awful boxing defense. She took some incredibly powerful shots from Holm before going to bed.

What is her mental state?

Rousey was fortunate enough to be in a position, financially speaking, to take as much time as she needed to get her head together following her loss to “The Preacher’s Daughter.” Time heals all wounds and I don’t believe she would have come back until she was 100-percent ready. Skipping any and all media duties no doubt improved her training camp, as well as her weight cut, so it appears to be “all systems go.”

Nunes is not Holm.

The Brazilian has an impressive reach with some serious knockout power, but she also suffers from cardio issues and is not the most fluid striker. More importantly, she is long and lean, perfect for getting hip-tossed from a judo master like Rousey. Can “Lioness” land the knockout punch before Rousey gets close enough to secure a grip? Possible, but not plausible. I don’t think this fight leaves the first round and a replay of the Zingano win would not surprise me.

Final prediction: Rousey def. Nunes by submission

135 lbs.: Bantamweight Champion Dominick “Dominator” Cruz (22-1) vs. Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (10-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: Dominick Cruz is so good, he was able to come off the bench after two years — with just one fight since 2011 — and go five rounds with a prime TJ Dillashaw. The end result was a razor-thin decision and one that begs for a rematch, but that he was able to pull it off in the first place should give you an idea why they call him “Dominator.”

Standing in his way is the most terrifying striker in the bantamweight division. Cody Garbrandt has 10 wins, nine of which have come by way of knockout. He is young, fast, and hungry. There is no reason to believe he cannot usurp the throne and I believe this is his time to do it.

Shocked?

Don’t be. Cruz is the better fighter, but he’s also entered that phase in his career where he believes he’s invincible and that Garbrandt is a flat-footed bomb dropper with no skill or savvy. It won’t be brute force that spells doom for the champ, it will be complacency.

There is a reason Cruz has 14 decisions in 22 wins.

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Garbrandt being too emotional prior to this clash and that’s not inaccurate, but it’s also the kind of fire a contender needs against the likes of Cruz, because he won’t be outsmarted, out-struck, or out-worked.

He can, however, be out-powered.

Where “No Love” may be too angry for this co-headlining title fight, I don’t think Cruz is angry enough. Most of his opponents spend five rounds trying to rip the worm off the hook. Garbrandt will spend five rounds trying to punch a hole in the bottom of the boat.

Shark bait! (HOO HA HA)

Final prediction: Garbrandt def. Cruz by knockout

135 lbs.: T.J. Dillashaw (13-3) vs. John “Hands of Stone” Lineker (29-7)

Nostradumbass predicts: This featured bantamweight fight closely resembles the co main event between Cruz and Garbrandt. You have a technical striker with great wrestling against a gritty power puncher who swings for the fences. Fortunately for TJ Dillashaw, this one is likely to produce a different outcome.

Since coming up short on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14, Dillashaw tore through the division by way of his 9-2 run, one that included one championship title and six violent finishes. You can make an argument he won the Cruz fight, which like his loss to Raphael Assuncao, was a split among the judges. He is rightly ranked as the No. 1 fighter at 135 pounds and outside of Cruz, likely has no equal.

Lineker is a puffed-up flyweight who stands just 5’2” — but hits like a Mack truck. He earned the Dillashaw showdown by turning away John Dodson in a fight he probably would have lost, but “The Magician” made his offense disappear. Running at guys and dropping bombs makes every Lineker fight fun to watch, and the (cough) “strategy” works against mid-card marauders like Michael McDonald, but Dillashaw has the kind of footwork to negate the Brazilian bumrush.

And let’s not forget about that counterstriking.

One of the great things about a three-round fight is that it allows Lineker and his iron chin to go full bore without worrying about the championship rounds. From that perspective, this 135-pound contest will be exciting from start-to-finish. It will also prove why Dillashaw is on another level when it comes to MMA striking. If he doesn’t earn a title shot with a dominant performance, then UFC is wack.

Final prediction: Dillashaw def. Lineker by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine (16-5) vs. Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim (21-3-1, 1 NC)

***Note: This prediction completed by Patty Stumberg prior to the UFC 207 line up change***

Dong Hyun Kim’s surprise run as a knockout artist ended in October of 2014 when Tyron Woodley punished his habit of spinning with a massive overhand right. Wins over Josh Burkman and Dom Waters got him back on track, although injuries to himself and others scrapped fights with Neil Magny and Gunnar Nelson. This will be his first fight in thirteen months.

Continuing his endless war with the injury bug, Saffiedine fought just once between Jan. 4, 2014 and the beginning of 2016. Since his return, he’s won a decision over Jake Ellenberger and lost one to Rick Story, making this the first year since 2012 in which he’s fought more than once. He is four inches shorter than the 6’2″ Kim.

I’d happily pick the Belgian here if he just threw a little more volume; he’s got great takedown defense and his low kicks are some of the division’s fiercest. He just seems to have no killer instinct, scoring just one finish since 2009. Say what you will about Kim, he’s a tough, aggressive bastard with a suffocating clinch game.

Rick Story amply demonstrated how to beat Saffiedine with effective pressure and grappling, both of which Kim can provide in spades. So long as “Stun Gun’s” year-long layoff and status as a late replacement don’t affect him too badly, he outworks “The Sponge” to a decision win.

Final prediction: Kim def. Saffiedine by unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Ray “Tazmexican Devil” Borg (9-2) vs. Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka (11-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: This fight was difficult to predict on its own, then Ray Borg had to go and miss weight and further muddy the waters. Did he suffer from a hard weight cut, or was he just lazy? Knowing that would help us better predict what kind of fighter we should expect tonight in the UFC 207 PPV curtain jerker.

Borg, like opponent Louis Smolka, swims in a shallow pool of potential contenders, as the flyweight waters slowly but surely begin to dry up. Blame division champion Demetrious Johnson for his dominance, which forces UFC to dig deeper and deeper in search of fertile soil.

Sorry, I’m trying to hit a word count here, bear with me.

Borg is a fast, powerful flyweight with 15 takedowns in five UFC fights. Safe to say “Da Last Samurai” is going south for the winter. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Smolka is a talented grappler with dangerous submissions.

He also enjoys a five-inch advantage in both height and reach.

The longer this fight stays on the feet, the better chance Smolka has to win. I’m not going to make a big fuss over his submission loss to Brandon Moreno, because it was carelessness as opposed to inferior ability.

I just don’t think a three-round fight affords him enough time to rack up points.

Expect a fun, fast-paced fight that ends with a close decision. It would not surprise me to see Borg seal the deal with a late takedown, nor would I be shocked if Smolka stuffed a few at the horn and skated by.

Final prediction: Borg def. Smolka by split-decision

There you have it.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 207 fight card TONIGHT (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

For much more on UFC 207 click here.

Source:: mma mania