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UFC 207: Preview and Predictions
- Updated: December 30, 2016
On Dec. 30th, the UFC is set to send off the craziest year in MMA history with one of the most intriguing cards of 2016.
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will welcome returning superstar Ronda Rousey, while UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will look to sustain his dominance of the Team Alpha Male fight team, as he defends his belt against the surging Cody Garbrandt.
Rounding out the rest of the card are several contender’s bouts and ranking eliminators, which will set up several divisions for an interesting 2017. There are a pair of potential no.1 contender bouts between bantamweights TJ Dillashaw and John Lineker, a flyweights fight between Louis Smolka and Ray Borg, and also a pair of welterweight bouts which will shuffle the look of the division’s top 10 rankings going into the following year.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of the upcoming UFC 207 card.
(c) Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey – Woman’s Bantamweight Championship
All eyes will be back on Rousey in UFC 207, since it’s been over a year after her devastating knock out loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November. The UFC has been hard at work pounding Rousey’s return down our throats, which is quite a shame, since she’ll be up against a killer for a champion in Amanda Nunes.
It’s impossible to tell where Rousey’s head is at. She did the right thing by taking a full year off after her first career loss, but has largely been out of the MMA’s spotlight for most of it. During her time off, the woman’s bantamweight title has been flip flopped several times, but at the moment it’s in the hands of Nunes.
Out of all the previous champions who’ve held the belt during Rousey’s absence, this matchup is the hardest to predict. Both fighters are hot starters out of the gate, with Rousey featuring a blitz of heavy hands, submissions and judo techniques, contrasting Nunes’ overpowering combinations and smothering wrestling style.
It may be difficult to ask for, with both fighters being so explosive during the early rounds, but the outcome of this fight will lean towards whoever is the most patient during the beginning of this matchup. At any moment, for either fighter, one can easily get caught and quickly find themselves getting finished in a blink of an eye.
Ronda has never been outside of the first round in any of her victories, but her best chance of winning may come after the first two rounds. Nunes is notorious for slowing down as the fight drags on, meaning her best chances of winning will come during the first couple of rounds. She’ll have to employ the same calculated game plan she took into her fight against Miesha Tate, where she patiently picked apart the former champion on her feet, eventually overwhelming her on the ground.
We have not seen Ronda intend for a fight to extend past the first round. Because of this, expect Nunes to finish Rousey within the two rounds, probably putting an end to her storied MMA career.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes defeats Ronda Rousey via KO/TKO/Submission in round 2.
(c) Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt – Bantamweight Championship
Another year, another Team Alpha Male fighter looking to solve Dominick Cruz. This time, it’s the red hot Cody Garbrandt stepping up for the biggest challenge in his young career, as he takes on the man who has halted his team’s title hopes for the last couple years.
Both fighters experienced amazing success in 2016, with Garbrandt notching 3 straight first round KOs, and Cruz returning from a 4-year battle with injuries; claiming back the division he ruled his whole career.
Garbrandt has been nothing short of impressive in every fight he’s had in the UFC, displaying a scary amount of power and speed in his boxing, while also honing in on the signature Alpha Male wrestling style. He has pretty much wiped the floor with every opponent placed in front of him. However, the step he is about to take up is on a whole other level.
Dominick Cruz has made a career of making fools out of the best fighters the 135 division has had to offer. That most likely will be the case once again, since his awkward and elusive style of fighting does not trend well for Garbrandt’s style, who won’t be able to land a solid hit on his target if he deploys the forward wailing style he used in prior fights.
Garbrandt certainly has a shot to knock out Cruz, but he’ll have to stay patient. He’ll have to wait for the perfect opportunity, which will be hard to come by, since Cruz is hard to catch even when he commits a rare mistake. Cruz will be susceptible to these mistakes if he steps outside his comfort zone, which we should not expect to happen.
Expect Cruz to dictate the same game plan he’s had for years, evading most of Garbrandt’s damage, and rattling him with awkward combinations and takedowns. Cruz should be able to frustrate Garbrandt even if he is patient, and should be able to pick him apart on the judge’s score card.
Prediction: Dominick Cruz defeats Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision.
TJ Dillashaw vs. John Lineker – Bantamweight
Likely awaiting the winner of the Cruz/Garbrandt bout, will be the winner of TJ Dillashaw and John Lineker. The former champion in Dillashaw faces the unfortunate scenario of not only being overlooked for a rematch with Cruz, but having to take on the dangerous Lineker.
It will be an interesting contrast of styles, but both fighters have a knack to put on exciting fights. Dillashaw’s evolution as a mixed martial artist under Duane Ludwig has been quite breathtaking. His striking game is diverse and calculated, and the two have shown off a certain level of chemistry that only the elite will ever reach.
Lineker on the other hand employs a completely different game plan, since he’s always looking to turn fights into slugfests, and will stalk Dillashaw against the cage no matter what he throws at him.
Dillashaw will have to make great use of his movement, and pick apart Lineker when he is moving in and looking to deliver a serious blow. Circling away from the cage will be key, since if Lineker is able to stalk Dillashaw up against the fence consistently, their fight could get ugly real fast.
Knowing their fighting styles, we should expect Dillashaw to follow a game plan which will neutralize Lineker’s strengths, and pick him apart en route to a decision win.
Prediction: TJ Dillashaw defeats John Lineker via unanimous decision.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine – Welterweight
UFC 207 will feature a pair of important welterweight fights which will alter the outlook of the top 10 in their division. In a feature bout, long time contenders Dong Hyun Kim and Tarec Saffiedine will look to rally together some momentum and finally enter the title conversation in 2017.
In this bout, we’ve got a classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Kim has shown some advancements in his striking game, but it isn’t on the level of Saffiedine. The outcome of the fight will be simple. If Kim is able to overpower Saffiedine and get a hold of him, the fight will likely trend in his favour. If Saffiedine can keep his distance, and avoid grappling matchups, he should pick apart Kim on his feet. Kim has trended to become less of a grappler in his recent fights, but looking to stand and trade blows with Saffiedine would be a mistake.
Ultimately, it’s safer to lean with Kim on this one, since Saffiedine has had trouble with guys who are able to overpower him, such as in his losses against Rick Story and Rory MacDonald. If Kim goes back to his roots in grappling, he should be able to take a decision win.
Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim defeats Tarec Saffiedine via unanimous decision.
Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight
In the other key welterweight bout, former champion Johny Hendricks will look to make one more run at a title when he takes on the ever evolving Neil Magny.
Both fighters are coming off of losses, with Hendricks coming off two straight. Time is quickly running out for Hendricks, as his days of being a dominant welterweight look to be over. He was outclassed by a younger Kelvin Gastelum, and had nothing to offer in his last fight versus Stephen Thompson.
Magny had quite a bit of hype following him after stringing together a 10-1 record over the past couple years, but was quickly derailed by Lorenz Larkin in his last fight. With Hendricks looking unimpressive in his past two losses, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Magny outlast him. Magny has improved every time we’ve seen him in the octagon up until his loss to Larkin, while Hendricks has looked uninspired and certainly past his prime as of late.
Prediction: Neil Magny defeats Johny Hendricks via unanimous decision.
Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg – Flyweight
Finally, we have another important flyweight matchup on the card. Both within the top 15 of their weight class, Louis Smolka and Ray Borg are also both coming off of upset losses, and will look to bounce back and make a case to challenge champion, Demetrious Johnson.
Borg has been dominant when it comes wrestling, but he should struggle with the taller and more well-rounded Smolka. Borg is getting there, but he’s still a bit too one-dimensional, which was certainly the case in his last loss against Justin Scoggins. On the other hand, Smolka has looked like a potential contender, even after coming off of a devastating loss in his last fight.
We should expect Smolka to use his length to his advantage, and fend Borg off with long combinations and submissions if he is ever taken to the ground. If he can do that successfully, Smolka shouldn’t have any problems leaving the night with a win.
Prediction: Louis Smolka defeats Ray Borg via submission in round 2.
Rest of the Card
Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Marvin Vettori
Antonio Carlos Junior has been hyped up quite a bit by Brazilians throughout his career, but he has not even come close to living up to it. He does come in with quite a big size advantage over Vettori, and he should be able to take full advantage of that if the fight goes to the ground. At the same time, he is fighting a younger Vettori, who is still getting seasoned in the MMA game.
Prediction: Antonio Carlos Junior defeats Marvin Vettori via submission in round 1.
Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia
The 41-year old Mike Pyle is still chugging along in the UFC, but has dropped 3 of his last 4. Pyle’s chances are good if the fight stays on their feet, but if Garcia is able to take him to the mat, he should be able to overpower Pyle.
Prediction: Alex Garcia defeats Mike Pyle via unanimous decision.
Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price
Once hyped as a potential welterweight contender, Brandon Thatch has dropped 3 in a row. Thatch is in must win territory, and draws a more favourable matchup than UFC newcomer, Niko Price, who likes to keep things standing. Thatch will finally be able to stand up on his feet for this fight, where he should be able to pick apart Price with some nasty muay thai.
Prediction: Brandon Thatch defeats Niko Price via TKO in round 1.
Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means
In the first bout of the night, we get an exciting matchup between Alex Oliveira and Tim Means. Expect Means to be able to pick apart Oliveira on his feet, which should eventually force Oliveira to shoot for takedowns. If Means can stuff his shots, he should be able to coast to a win.
Prediction: Tim Means defeats Alex Oliveira via TKO in round 2.
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