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UFC 207 Fight Previews and Odds: Rousey vs. Nunes Picks

Ronda Rousey(12-1) @ Amanda Nunes(13-4)

  • Where: T-Mobile Arena. Paradise, Nevada
  • When: December 30, 2016 6:30 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Rousey (-140) vs Nunes (+110)
  • Over / Under: Over 1.5 (+185) vs. Under 1.5 (-225)

Muhammad Ali was once asked why he spent so much time throwing shade at opponent Joe Frazier, a man he privately respected. “Well, we sold out Madison Square Garden, didn’t we?” Ali said.

In a similar narrative, former UFC Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has said while she respects her opponents, a little pre-fight jawing is a good way to stir up publicity and is ultimately good for the sport.

Except this time, Rousey isn’t talking. In fact, she skipped UFC’s Media Day, which has motivated her opponent – muscular current champ Amanda Nunes. “They’re supposed to force you to do it,” the Brazilian fighter barked on Tuesday. “I think they would make me do it. Okay, they love Ronda Rousey. What are you going to do? Kick her ass.”

Rousey’s last fight was an unsuccessful title defense against Holly Holm in November 2015. Holm used a stick-and-move strategy to frustrate the aggressive grappler. After a 1st round in which Holm kept her distance and landed several damaging left hands, a bloodied Rousey tried to press the issue in the 2nd and received another left and a kick that knocked her out, giving Holm the crown in a major upset.

Since losing the belt, Rousey has avoided shoot-fighting and has flirted with a career in World Wrestling Entertainment. Is her silence before UFC 207 a crisis of confidence, or a newfound focus headed into 1 of the biggest fights of her career?

Bettors are faced with the conundrum of choosing between an uncharacteristically withdrawn favorite who has not fought in 13 months, and an underdog champion who has lost 4 times in her career but scored a dominant win over Miesha Tate to claim the Bantamweight belt this summer, emerging victorious after executing hard strikes and a choke hold in the 1st round.

Nunes has not lost a bout since UFC 178 in September of 2014, when she fell to Cat Zingano via TKO in the 3rd round. Nunes also recently dealt well-respected kick-boxer Valentina Shevchenko the Russian’s 1st loss in 6 years. Read ahead for our Rousey vs Nunes prediction and picks for 4 undercard fights.

Main Event – Rousey vs. Nunes preview and predictions

UFC 207 Fight PreviewsBoxing and MMA have a long history of fighters psyching themselves out before a major test. The 12-1 Rousey’s lone loss in 2015 could have been dismissed as a fluke if only the fierce Californian had kept competing. But a year’s layoff and troubling signs of a psychologically rattled fighter (Rousey blocked Nunes on Instagram a week ago, for instance) cast doubt on the value in her (-140) money line odds.

Rousey prefers to grapple and throw opponents before peppering them with knockout blows, while Nunes is a striker who uses punches and kicks to set up torturous submission holds. The “Brazilian Lioness” will likely mimic Holm’s strategy of parrying on her feet, waiting until the challenger is hurt before looking for a knockout or submission.

A few pundits are touting the champ in a 1st-round knockout. But fighters who have tried to swarm Rousey early have met a quick end. Instead, Nunes’ level of patience and smarts will be key.

A wager on Nunes to win at (+110) offers value. Rousey is behaving like a tense athlete who could punch herself out in the 1st round. If Rousey were her usual chirpy self, the war of words could provoke Nunes into a rash gamble. Instead, the champ will wage a focused, technically sound fight and retain over Rousey in multiple rounds or by decision.

Bet on Amanda Nunes to retain the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship at Bovada.

Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt money line tip

The 31 year-old Cruz enters as a solid money line favorite (-225) to retain his Bantamweight title over a surging Garbrandt. The challenger is considered a heavy striker, and has won 4 of his last 5 bouts by knockout. However, Cruz is considered by many to be among the world’s foremost pound-for-pound prizefighters.

Garbrandt will enjoy a puncher’s chance at an upset, but our recommendation is 1 unit on Cruz to retain.

TJ Dillashaw vs. John Lineker upset alert

Another Bantamweight bout offers a clash of styles, as the brute force of Lineker (+185) meets the quickness and agility of Dillashaw (-235). Though the trendy prediction has Dillashaw out-maneuvering and out-lasting his slower opponent, the ML favorite also appears distracted and has spent the last couple of weeks being upset with Dominick Cruz for fighting Garbrandt instead of him.

Addled by his placement on the card, Dillashaw could get caught by a sledgehammer of an opponent. Great value in a 1 or 2-unit wager on Lineker to score the upset.

Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg picks

Smolka is known as a great striker, but comes in as a modest underdog (+105). Why? His opponent Borg (-135) is a grappler with terrific ground technique, mirroring the style of Brandon Moreno who out-wrestled Smolka in a recent contest.

Our pick is Borg by decision after a cat-and-mouse battle, but don’t throw your biggest wager at this unpredictable Flyweight bout. There is more value elsewhere on the card.

Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia best bets

The strong Garcia comes in as only a slight favorite (-170) over the 41 year-old Pyle in a Welterweight prelim. Pyle is well-respected as a scrappy fighter with excellent wrestling skills.

However, the older combatant has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, has a questionable chin, and is approaching the “jobber” phase of his career. We recommend a money line bet on Garcia who will likely prevail in a 1st or early-2nd round knockout.

Wager on UFC 207 with a $250 cash bonus (50% of first deposit) at the Bovada Sportsbook.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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