The highly anticipated return of the once long reigning women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey will go down on December 30th at the T-Mobile arena is Las Vegas, Nevada. Co-headlining this massive card is the men’s bantamweight championship, as current champ, Dominic Cruz is set to defend his title for the second time of his second reign against undefeated and rising contender, Cody Garbrandt. Let’s run down through the main card and get some predictions for these spectacular bouts.
Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey
In this highly anticipated bout, we see the return of one of MMA’s biggest stars in Ronda Rousey, and to be perfectly honest, it couldn’t be a better matchup for her. Ronda’s last performance was one that would go down in sports history as one of the biggest upsets of all time when Holly Holm’s shin connected to the side of Rousey’s face, putting her to sleep. However, Rousey has had a good amount of time off, which is something I think will help her actually, while many disagree.
The current champion, Amanda Nunes is coming off of a devastating submission finish over then champion, Miesha Tate. She has looked great in her last few bouts, showcasing her world class striking and slick ground game. However, her fighting style play’s right into Rousey’s.
Every time I picture this fight, I see Ronda getting the best of Nunes, getting her to the ground, and getting her world famous armbar, I just do. However, there most definitely is a scenario where Amanda tees off on Rousey, sending her into permanent retirement, which is something that would most likely happen if she comes out the loser. With that said, I think the safer option is Ronda in this one, if Nunes pressures her like she has done to practically all of her opponents, then she is in for a long night against the former champ.
Pick: Ronda Rousey def. Amanda Nunes via Armbar round 1.
Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt
A classic matchup of a young kid looking to knock the head off of the longtime champion, Cruz vs. Garbrandt is set to be an interesting bout. On one hand, you have arguably one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time in Cruz, defending against an undefeated (as a professional) KO artist looking to make everyone succumb to his bombs of hands.
Cruz, who has had a long history of sustaining career-ending injuries, (arguably what has kept him from being considered the pound-for-pound king) looked nearly flawless in his last performance against another Team Alpha Male fighter, Uriah Faber. He has some of the best footwork in the UFC, and is the least-hit fighter on the roster.
Standing across the cage from him is a serious knockout machine in Garbrandt. In his last performance, we saw Cody dismantle the veteran, Takeya Mizugaki in just 48 seconds. He has finished 4 of his 5 bouts under the UFC, 3 of which were in the first round.
Despite his so far impressive run, I feel like Garbrandt is being rushed into the spotlight, like many other rising UFC stars. I believe the 25 year old is just too one-dimensional for the expert martial artist in Cruz.
It’s a tough fight to pick, considering just how powerful Cody is on the feet, but several statistics are against the young up-and-comer. For one, like previously stated, it is nearly impossible to hit Dominick, especially with such a clean hit that could put him out, and his overall game is nearly flawless. I see Cody marching down Cruz looking to drop bombs as Cruz carefully gets out of the way and picks Garbrandt apart. I see Dominick either getting the late finish or out-pointing for a clear decision.
Pick: Dominick Cruz def. Cody Garbrandt via TKO round 4.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez
One of the most anticipated rematches of all time, Cain Velasquez looks to seek revenge to the second man to beat him, Fabricio Werdum. Many consider their first bout’s outcome a direct result of Velasquez’s lack of proper training in the Altitude in Mexico, where the fight took place.
This time around however, the bout will take place in Nevada, and I believe this fight will go a tad different than the first. Both men are coming off of wins over Travis Browne, however Velasquez had the more impressive performance from the two, as he obliterated Browne inside the first.
Werdum’s striking seemed to be too much to bare for Velasquez in their first fight, but I’m really banking on the cardio being the main issue here. Cain has only lost twice in his career, and when he rematched the first man to beat him…Well let’s just say Junior Dos Santos will never be the same from those wars. I really think Velasquez will come in much more determined than Werdum and showcase why he deserves a title shot.
Pick: Cain Velasquez def. Fabricio Werdum via TKO round 2.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. John Lineker
In what is most likely a #1 contender fight in the bantamweight division, former champ, TJ Dillashaw takes on hard-hitting John Lineker is what is sure to be the sleeper fight on the main card.
Dillashaw is coming off of a dominating unanimous decision over fellow contender, raphael assunção. Lineker however, is fresh off of a controversial split decision victory over John Dodson, who owns a TKO victory over Dillashaw. It is an interesting fight stylistically as Dillashaw is known for his speed and athleticism and Lineker is known for his pressure and KO ability.
I see Lineker contuisaly looking for the finishing blow, but overall I think Dillashaw is too quick for the Brazilian. T.J. shouldn’t have too much trouble outpointing in the one, as long as he steers clear of the “Hands of Stone” in Lineker.
Pick: T.J. Dillashaw def. John Lineker via Unanimous decision.
Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg
A very, very, very interesting fight in the flyweight division, and a real must win for both men to advance into higher level competition, such as a top 10 opponent. Both flyweights are also coming off of losses, which Smolka was upsetted in the first round by Brandon Moreno and Borg lost a unanimous decision to Justin Scoggins.
This is a tough fight to call as we don’t really know what to expect. Borg I believe has the advantage on the ground, but Smolka has the standup to counter that. Either man can pull off the win, but I’m going to have to go with Smolka overall, I think it’s just the more comfortable pick.
Pick: Louis Smolka def. Ray Borg via Split decision.