I share some thoughts, opinions, and takeaways from a really fun UFC 207 Pay-Per-View Card last weekend. I also recap how my UFC 207 predictions did:
-Amanda Nunes is a damn savage and good luck to any woman at 135lbs that attempts to take that belt away from her. The woman is a tidal wave in the first round, similar to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. The way she hits women in that division makes her a threat to any women who dares to try to take her belt. It was a shame the UFC, Dana White, and main PR apparatus basically pretended their champion did not exist in the lead up to this fight. While she is not as recognizable as Rousey, the UFC missed a golden opportunity to build the brand of their current champ who has her own amazing story. The favoritism they showed the challenger over their champion leading up to UFC 207 was pathetic. The first openly gay world champion in any combat sport is something that deserved more coverage which unfortunately was a common theme for Nunes throughout the lead up to this fight. Nunes showed that Rousey had no business in there with her and did what champions do, steam roll inferior competition. Hopefully the UFC has learned their lesson of ignoring one of their own champions to focus on favoring a fighter that would make them more money in the short-term. Amanda Nunes may not sell as many Pay-Per-Views as Ronda Rousey, but she could easily tap into several important markets and demographics if the promotion would give her the appropriate attention a champion deserved.
-Ronda Rousey’s career as a championship contender is over, and UFC 207 was her funeral. The fight community and media has tried to breakdown ad-nausem why she got completely destroyed this past weekend but I think the explanation is relatively simple and explained in three parts:
Part 1: She is not as good as the women she is losing to. Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano put women’s MMA on the map. She will forever have a rightful place in history for her contributions to the sport. However, just like Carano found out, the fight game is always evolving and once the talent level rises you can easily become just another fighter in a sport you were once queen of overnight. I wrote in my preview leading up to the fight: “Amanda Nunes is not Meisha Tate, Liz Carmouche, or Bethe Correia” and from the opening bell she proved that. Ronda Rousey’s competition prior to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes was not world-class. No, she did not fight all tomato cans either, but she fought a lot of one-dimensional fighter’s, most of whom did not possess the striking skills to expose Rousey’s relatively pedestrian stand-up & striking defense. Holm and Nunes are both world class good on their feet. They are also skilled enough to keep out of Rousey’s clinch, which negated any chances the former champion had against them. Her losses were not close fights; Rousey is no longer good enough to hold the women’s belt at 135lbs.
Part 2: Her coach and camp stinks. Edmond Tarverdyan is the worst coach working in the UFC today. He somehow took a world-class Judo and arm bar specialist, and turned her into a defenseless punching bag. He’s completely ruined the other fighters in his camp, and all you have to do is listen to his terrible instructions between rounds in previous fights to realize he only hurt Rousey’s chances of a successful comeback instead of helping like a good coach should. I do not know if Rousey would have beat Holm or Nunes if she’d switched to a JacksonWink or American Top Team camp prior to those losses. However, I am certain she would not have gotten embarrassed like she did under Tarvedyan in those fights. She would have had a real game plan instead of a coach out of his depth trying to make his star pupil into a fighter who she is not.
Part 3: I am not sure she wants to fight for a living anymore. Most humans walking this planet do not possess the drive, talent, and discipline Rousey used to become the world champion at 135lbs. The guts it took to get back in the octagon after getting her head kicked to Mars in her last fight is commendable. However, Rousey’s unwillingness to promote the fight and general combativeness to even the most benign critiques after her loss to Holm, struck me as someone not able to process failure in a rational way. You cannot ride the wave of media and PR that builds you into a house hold brand and then call that same wave evil once it dares to ask relevant questions about your first loss. There was an alarming lack of any reports of sparring from her training camp. The constant storylines focusing on her “great physical shape”, without mentioning anything about her mental make-up were all major red flags. The biggest flag for me was the talks of suicide and speaking about retirement as a near-term goal. The general rule for all combat sports athletes is the moment you begin to think about retirement it’s time to get out. If an athlete starts thinking about a life after this brutal sport, that is typically the universal sign that the sport is no longer for you. Combat sports are some of the most exciting and at the same time ruthless in the world. Most fighters never get the storybook ending to their careers, Rousey is no different.
-Speaking of the fight game evolving, Cody “No Love” Garbrandt backed up all of his words and looked damn near unbeatable capturing the bantamweight championship in his dismantling of the legendary champ Dominick Cruz. The normally lightning fast Cruz appeared like he was fighting in quicksand all night as he swung wildly at the challenger. Garbrandt danced, mocked, and put Cruz on the mat with some viciously placed punches, showing his superior boxing skills against the champion. I thought the fight was a little closer than some of the media had it, but Garbrandt clearly won the belt. He’s a star in the making as long as the UFC doesn’t choose to ignore this champion like they did Nunes. I’d love to see a rematch somewhere down the line, but after TJ Dillashaw earned his shot to as Garbrandt’s first title defense; the rematch will have to wait.
-TJ Dillashaw was equally impressive as Garbrandt albeit against slightly less stiff competition. John Lineker’s best efforts could not match Dillashaw’s performance as he was completely outclassed the entire fight.
-Neil Magny keeps winning fights by any means necessary. The win over Hendricks at 207 was nothing spectacular but he survived some scary spots against a desperate opponent and got the win.
-Is anyone really interested in seeing Johny Hendricks next fight? I wish him well, but his fights have devolved into grappling matches, and I’m not sure moving up in weight is going to help his career but I’d love for the old “Big Rig” to return if that is still possible.
-Mike Pyle has had a great career, but it’s time to hang it up. That knockout was tough to watch.
-I thought UFC 206 was one of the worst Pay-Per-View cards when it came to championship caliber hype or name recognition, but looking ahead to the next PPV UFC 208 that may beat that card in a landslide of awful. UFC 206 ended up being a really entertaining card, so I’m hoping 208 will surprise in the same way. However, the headliners are a FS1 or UFC on FOX card quality, not a pay-per-view. I get that the UFC is trying to launch their new 145lbs women’s division, but Holly Holm is best known for kicking Ronda Rousey and Germaine De Randamie could walk into any one’s house in America with a name tag on and no one outside of her own immediately family would know who she is. The rest of the card is also made up of a lot of interesting fights for diehard fans, but I’d be shocked if this card sells more than 100k PPV’s unless they add another big fight to the card.
UFC 207 Predictions
(Magny via TKO -120) (Win) = +$100
(Dillashaw -250) via Submission) / Bonus Play: (Under 2.5 +155) (Win/Loss) = +$35/-$100
(Cruz -220) via Unanimous Decision) / Bonus Play: (Over 3.5 -120) (Loss/Win) = -$110/+$100
(Amanda Nunes (+130) via TKO) / Bonus Play: Under 1 Round (-150) (Win/Win) = +$130/$100
UFC 207 results (5-2) (+$255)
Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (29-22-0) (+$7.50)
-Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
-Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
*Stats via www.UFC.com