UFC 207 marked what will likely be the end of a career for someone who was once regarded as the greatest female MMA fighter on earth, Ronda Rousey. Ronda's rise and fall will go down in history, perhaps even bigger and bolder than her reign at the top was, and she will likely be remembered for what she wasn’t, compared to what she was. But although this past year and a half has not been kind to Ronda or the empire that she built, we must give credit where credit is due.
Ronda Rousey helped launch female MMA into the mainstream, becoming the first woman fighter to be signed to the UFC, where she was crowned Bantamweight Champion, and soon began her reign as the best female fighter in the world. When Ronda fought Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, February 23rd, 2013, where she made her first title defense in the UFC, I don’t think even Ronda could have imagined just how far the woman’s Bantamweight Division could go, or even how far she could go. From the moment she began fighting in the UFC, Ronda was met with little to no resistance from her opponents, earning Performance of the Night in 4 of her next 5 fights, leading up to her loss against Holly Holm. It wasn’t just her 12-0 record or that she was the only champ the UFC had ever known, it was how she defeated her opponents. Ronda handed out beatings like they were candy on Halloween, and she feared no one.
Leading up to the Holly Holm fight we began to see cracks in Ronda’s foundation, and we saw her true colors begin to shine. She had never dealt with outside pressures and things not going the way she wanted, because she was always in control. The moment Holly Holm landed that head kick, everything Ronda Rousey had worked so hard to build and preserve, came crashing down. She spent a year in hiding, teasing multiple comebacks but never making good on any of them, and as the months passed, people began to question if we would ever see Ronda in an Octagon again.
Failure is one of, if not the biggest thing in life. It's not the failure itself, but how we react to that failure that makes or breaks us. A true champion to me, is someone who takes their loss, licks their wounds, and gets right back up. For example, love him or hate him, but after Conor lost to Nate, there was nothing that would stop him from avengeing that loss. He needed to prove to himself, and the world that he was capable of doing this. And he did. In my eyes, even if Ronda had won tonight, she still had not righted that wrong from the Holly Holm fight, and that alone would not allow her to feel free, or liberated from that failure. What I saw in Ronda Rousey after her loss was something that I would not expect from a true champion. And because of that, I feel that we have seen Ronda Rousey fight for the last time. I think this sport, and the life of competition that she created, has taken too much of a toll on Ronda's psyche. For the good of her own mental health, and the sport, Ronda Rousey must retire. The woman's Bantamweight division has perhaps found its stride, with Amanda Nunes looking to be a serious champion, with plenty of challengers both on the rise and already ready. Not only is the Batamweight division looking like it has turned a corner, but the UFC has finally introduced a woman's Featherweight belt, with rumors of a potential Flyweight division in the future. Female MMA would not be close to where it is right now without the path that Ronda blazed, but this fairytale does not have a happy "storybook" ending, and I believe in my heart that UFC 207 will be the last time we see Ronda Rousey inside an Octagon, and for good reason.
This photo will likely be the last of the Ronda Rousey-Era, and I think it will be remembered much more vividly than any photo from her spot atop the MMA mountain, for good reason or not.
The day has finally come, Ronda Rousey will make her long awaited return to the Octagon, after a year of hiding and making excuses, it is time for us to find out just how good Ronda really is, and if she can respond to a loss. UFC 207 took a huge hit last week, when Cain Velasquez was pulled from the card by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) because of the severity of his back injury that he has been dealing with for months, and had serious surgery planned for in 2017. Cain was set to rematch Fabricio Werdum and the winner of that fight was expected to face Stipe Miocic for the Heavyweight Championship in 2017, but now, it looks like Wedum may have an easier path to getting his rematch with Stipe. This card is truly highlighted by three fights of the five main card fights, with two championship belts on the line and a potential number 1 contender fight.
The main card starts with a top 15 Flyweight matchup, with Louis Smolka taking on Ray Borg, with both men looking to crack the top 10 with a win, in what should be a battle on the ground, with both men having much stronger grappling game than their striking.
Next we have a top 15 Welterweight fight between Dong-Hyun Kim and Tarec Saffiedine, and this fight can go either way, with both men needing a big win to keep themselves climbing in the tough Welterweight division.
Now the fun begins, with former Bantamweight Champ TJ Dillashaw taking on top contender John Lineker. This fight will likely (although unofficial) produce the next challenger for the Bantamweight belt, which is on the line tonight as well. Dillashaw is looking to prove that he is still the best Bantamweight in the division, and that his requests for a rematch with current champ Dominick Cruz have been warranted. TJ will look to use his footwork and defense to avoid the monstrous power of John Lineker, who has the potential to end the fight in just one punch.
For the co-main event, we have a fight that I am personally VERY hyped about. Bantamweight Champ Dominick Cruz will take on rising star Cody Garbrandt, in what could be the fight of the night. Cruz is known for having possibly the best footworka and MMA IQ of anyone who has ever stepped into the Octagon, while his counterpart Cody is all about his knockout power. Cody and Dominick have not been too friendly or even respectful towards one another in the weeks leading up to this fight, so I expect nothing but fireworks in this fight from start to finish, whenever that be. This fight for me can end in the first round, or can go all 5, and that depends on Cody. I think for Cody to win this fight, he has to be able to put Dominick away within the first round and a half, otherwise I suspect that his power and stamina will drain, and that is when Cruz thrives, as the chamionship rounds are no stranger to him and his ability to take such little damage because of how great his defense/footwork is, makes him even tougher to put away.
And lastly, for the main event, we have the return of Ronda Rousey. Ronda looks to reclaim her throne as the greatest female fighter in the world, and potentially ever, but she has a huge challenge in front of her, in Women's Bantamweight Champ Amanda Nunes. Amanda is an absolute beast in the Octagon, and not only because of her power standing up but also because of her excellent jiu-jitsu. Ronda is an absolute head-case these days, and truly seems just a few steps away from a complete breakdown, so I have no idea what to expect from her tonight. We can see a Ronda that is angry and hungry or a Ronda that is angry and hurts herself because of it. Her emotions, and just how unstable they are, might be the biggest key in this fight. Amanda Nunes couldn't be more cool and calm coming into this fight, just looking to prove to the world that she truly is the champ, and that Ronda's return will not be all it has been hyped to be. Ronda has rubbed a large majority of fans the wrong way in the last few months, between her taking so long to come back, to refusing to do the media work for UFC 207, and even how every commercial or highlight for UFC 207 is focused on her, not the Champ, Amanda. If Ronda Rousey loses tonights fight, we will never see her step into an Octagon again, and it would be one of the biggst falls from grace in sports history. A win tonight however, could cement Ronda's place atop the greatest Combat Sport Athletes ever.
The UFC's double-header weekend continues, as UFC 206 will kick off tonight in Ontario Canada. The card has taken some damage over the last month, losing its original main event of Daniel Cormier and Anthony Rumble Johnson, as DC dropped out with injury (surprise surprise). However, in light of Conor becoming the "Double Champ", the UFC saw the opportunity to increase the stakes at UFC 206, by stripping Conor of his Featherweight belt, and making the fight between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis the new main event, and for the Interim Featherweight belt.
Unfortunately for the UFC, that plan backfired slightly, as Anthony Pettis blew it and couldn't make weight, coming in at 148 pounds. Since Pettis couldn't make weight, the circumstances around the main event have changed, as the fight will now be an Interim Chamiponship fight for Holloway only. Pettis will not be crowned champ if he wins, and will likely not receive a title shot against Jose Aldo, on top of having to give 20% of his fight payout to Holloway.
This card has plenty of fire power, with some big names making their returns to the octagon/debut. First, we have Jordan Mein and Emil Meek, facing off in what should be a great welterweight bout. Mein is returning from "retirement", and looks to start off the right way. Emil Meek is making his UFC debut, and I am personally very excited to see what he can bring to the table in the UFC. He has made a name for himself in Norway, knocking people out left and right, and has finally earned his shot in the UFC.
Prediction: Meek wins by 2nd round TKO.
Next, we have the return of the great Tim Kennedy, as he takes on Kelvin Gastelum. If you don't know who Tim Kennedy is, or why he's the man, I highly suggest you watch the videos at the bottom of this article. He is a U.S. Army Speical Forces Sniper, receives death threats from ISIS, and couldn't give a damn. Tim will look to make a run at the title in the (weaker) middleweight division, and I am certainly not gonna be the one to tell him no. Kelvin Gastelum is making his debut at 185 pounds, where he was basically forced to fight, after failing to make weight at 170 pounds, AGAIN. Kelvin has missed weight numerous times, and it has gotten pretty pathetic at this point, so we are hoping that Dana banishes him to the Middleweight division forever.
Prediction: Tim Kennedy wins by 3rd round TKO, otherwise it goes to him in decision.
In the next fight we have some serious fire power in the Featherweight division, as Cub Swansom squares off with "The Korean Superboy", Doohoo Choi. If you haven't heard of Doohoo, you will soon enough. The 25 year old "Superboy", has been on a tare in the UFC, finishing all his opponents by KO/TKO. Cub Swanson will look to slow Choi's roll, and in turn possibly earn himself a shot at the title. I feel that Swanson will benefit from a Pettis win tonight, because if Anthony and Cub both win, and Pettis is denied the automatic title shot because of missing weight, him and Cub would be a great title-eliminator.
Prediction: Choi by 2nd round KO/TKO.
Tonight's co-main event has really heated up this week, with Matt Brown making his opinion of Donald Cowboy Cerrone very public, saying that he's a bully and that he is going to expose Cowboy on Saturday. This fight is going to be great. Two absolute killers, going at it with some serious lack of respect for each other. The Immortal, Matt Brown has dropped 4 of his last 5 fights, and is in desperate need of a big win, and a win over Cowboy would be just that. Cowboy has been putting together a strong resume in the Welterweight division, making easy work of his three 170-pound opponents. A finish tonight over Matt Brown, could land Cowboy's name in the conversation of the title for Welterweight, but we all know just how messy the top of that division is.
Prediction: Cowboy by 3rd round TKO.
In tonights main event, we have Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis, with a lot on the line. Holloway is fighting for his shot at Jose Aldo, and the opportunity to finally get his hands on the Featherweight title that he has worked so hard for. Anthony Pettis is fighting somewhat of a different battle, as he is fighting for his reputation, after missing weight and barely making weight in his last fight, he wants to prove to everyone that he can, and does belong in the 145-pound division. Once one of the most feared fighters in the world, Pettis has had a long and hard fall from being the Lightweight champ, just a year and a half ago. This fight should be plenty of fun, as these two fighters have very similar styles, and love to throw bombs. I think the power advantage is in Pettis' favor, but the all around footwork and striking style of Max Holloway is what gives him the stand-up advantage. This fight is a five round fight and I expect that they are going to need all five rounds, in what I hope is a slugfest. I think Holloway wins this one, earns himself the shot at Aldo early next year, but ultimately falls short against Aldo.
Prediction: Holloway via Unanimous Decision (5 rounds).