Ronda Rousey's return is almost here: UFC 207 in Nevada. Coverage begins Friday on FS1—or streamed live via the Fox Sports Go app—with the Prefight Show at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the preliminary bouts at 8 p.m. Here's everything you need to know about the bout for the women's bantamweight title between champion Amanda Nunes and Rousey.
The road to UFC 207 has been all about one person: Ronda Rousey. The former undefeated champion's return to the octagon has dominated talk of the event to the point that UFC color analyst Joe Rogan questioned how Rousey-oriented the marketing of the event has been, with promotional videos not even featuring champion Amanda Nunes.
The UFC and the promotion's president, Dana White, believe Rousey remains the company's biggest star, despite Conor McGregor's string of record-breaking pay-per-views.
"I think that Ronda Rousey's return will be the biggest pay-per-view we've ever done," White said on "The Herd" in August.
Rousey, the previously proclaimed "Most Dominant Athlete" in the world, has been absent from the sport that made her famous for over a year, following a knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193. The transcendent star's reclusion has added a layer of mystery leading up to her return, with Rousey refusing to talk to the media with the exception of some choice main stream shows.
Earlier in her career, Rousey felt pressure to keep the division thriving and dedicating time to media obligations and pushes. The division has been entertaining and successful in her absence and that has relieved her of that burden.
“Well it's just that I don't really have to. I mean I've done a lot of learning in this last year and I've learned that the views I get and the money I make really doesn't mean anything for me or my happiness” Rousey said. “Now that I know the women's division is secure, I don't have to do that anymore. I choose not to. It's not something I really get a kick off of like, 'Ooh I want to spend 12 hours at ESPN and talk [expletive] all day'. That's not really what I'd want to do.
“I want to go play World of Warcraft. So this time around I was like I'm not going to do that. I'm going to play World of Warcraft and then go train and then come back and chill out.”
Rousey was the only women's bantamweight champion the UFC had ever known entering UFC 193. Since Holly Holm dethroned Rousey, three women have worn the strap around their waist, and none have successfully defended the belt. Nunes is looking to end that streak by defeating Rousey. She predicts a first-round knockout.
Nunes has been focused on this fight since the moment she won the belt at UFC 200, defeating then-champion Miesha Tate. Nunes was able to handle the spotlight and pressure of that moment, and could weather the pressure of a super fight against Rousey.
The co-main event Friday is a bantamweight title fight in the men's division between champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Cody Garbrandt. There is no love lost between the two, with them having exchanged personal barbs for months. Garbrandt and Cruz had to be separated entering the T-Mobile Arena ahead of UFC 202, just hours before Garbrandt defeated TakeyaMizugaki in under a minute. He called out Cruz from the center of the cage.
It is an interesting stylistic matchup between an elusive, defensive fighter in Cruz, and a one-punch knockout power in Garbrandt. Both are known for their stand up, but have strong wrestling backgrounds and this fight could go anywhere.
Rousey has suffered just one professional loss in her career, the famed upset to Holm at UFC 193. Before then she dominated the sport, finishing all of her fights. Only twice has a fight gone past the first-round and rarely do they last longer than a minute. Aside from her Olympic career and bronze medal in Judo at the 2008 Olympic games, Rousey has competed in nine title fights between Strikeforce and the UFC.
Nunes's title fight against Miesha Tate at UFC 200 was the first title fight of her professional MMA career. Rousey has fought Tate twice, and defeated her both times, but Tate was widely considered Rousey's toughest opponent before Holm.
Rousey knocked out Alexis Davis in 16 seconds at UFC 175 and submitted Cat Zingano in 14 seconds at UFC 184. Both Davis and Zingano hold wins over Nunes, both via TKO. Nunes also lost to Sarah D'Alelio via decision in Invicta. Rousey submitted D'Alelio in 25 seconds in her Strikeforce debut.
Tale of the Tape
May 30, 1988
Feb. 1, 1987
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
FIGHTING OUT OF
* Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Thursday, 6 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
Last Five Fights
7/9/2016 - Miesha Tate - W Sub., Rd. 1*
11/15/2015 - Holly Holm - L KO, Rd. 2**
3/5/2016 - Valentina Shevchenko - W Unanimous Dec.
8/1/2015 - Bethe Correia - W KO, Rd. 1***
8/8/2015 - Sara McMann - W Sub., Rd. 1
2/28/2015 - Cat Zingano - W Sub., Rd. 1***
3/21/2015 - Shayna Baszler - W TKO, Rd. 1
7/5/2014 - Alexis Davis - W KO, Rd. 1***
9/27/2014 - Cat Zingano - L TKO, Rd. 3
2/2/2014 - Sara McMann - W TKO, Rd. 1***
* - Won the UFC Bantamweight Championship
**- Lost the UFC Bantamweight Championship
*** - Defended the UFC Bantamweight Championship
Other Numbers To Count On
411: Days since Ronda Rousey has stepped into the UFC octagon.
2: The number of times a Ronda Rousey fight has gone past the first round.
5: The number of times a Ronda Rousey fight has gone past the first minute.
Ronda Rousey, despite having not fought in over a year, is the betting favorite. Most sports books have the moneyline for Rousey at -140 (bet $140 to win $100). Amanda Nunes, the champion, is the underdog. Most sports books have the money line for Nunes at around +120 (bet $100 to win $120). This is a huge turnaround from Rousey's previous fight against Holly Holm, where Rousey was a massive favorite.
This fight is hard to predict because of the media blackout from Rousey, turning one of the sport's biggest media stars in to somewhat of an enigma. What is her conditioning like? What is her mental state? How has she prepared and what has she worked on? These are all question marks without answers.
Rousey brought in Olympic boxer Mikaela Mayer to work with her between UFC 193 and UFC 207, presumably on the deficiencies that Holly Holm exploited en route to an upset victory. The biggest flaw Holm exposed was Rousey's tendency to march forward and eat punches in an attempt to grab a hold of her opponent. It would bear to reason that Mayer worked with Rousey on her ability to circle away from punches and combinations, to close the distance in a safer way. This would allow Rousey to grab Nunes, then go for her famous judo throw into an armbar attempt.
However, picking against a determined and focused Rousey is never wise.
“I’m ready to take this belt home. This is a dream right here. She had her time, she let it go. Now it’s a huge problem. Because she’s not going to have this belt back ever again."
- Amanda Nunes to Fox Sports
“Well she kind of has to say that because everyone knows she gasses out in the second so she has to tell herself that. What else is she going to tell herself? She has to sleep at night somehow.”
- Ronda Rousey on the Conan O'Brien show
The Rest of the Card
Main Card (10 PM ET, PPV)
Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt - For bantamweight title
T.J. Dillashaw vs. John Lineker
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Ray Borg vs. Louis Smolka
Preliminary Card (8 p.m. ET, FS1)
Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny
Alex Garcia vs. Mike Pyle
Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Marvin Vettori
Niko Price vs. Brandon Thatch
Preliminary Card (7:30 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)
Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira
The co-main event of the fight was originally a heavyweight No. 1 contender bout between former champions Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. The Nevada State Athletic Commission denied Velasquez a license, forcing the fight off the card.
Mike Goldberg will make his final appearance cage side at UFC 207 for play-by-blay alongside color commentator Joe Rogan. Goldberg will be replaced and Rogan is expected to stay.