Amanda Nunes is still the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Taking on former titleholder Ronda Rousey in the UFC 207 main event, Nunes needed all of 48 seconds to hand the Olympic medalist her second straight loss, unloading vicious and accurate punches from the onset.
With Rousey favored in her return fight, 13-months following a devastating loss at UFC 193, Nunes seized the opportunity to defend her title for the first time after winning the belt at UFC 200.
Straight from the opening bell, Nunes attacked Rousey with heavy strikes. Pushing forward and landing clean punches, Nunes stunned Rousey, forcing the former champion to backpedal. But Nunes continued her pressure and caught Rousey, who resorted to briefly holding the cage to maintain her balance.
The Brazilian is now 7-1 inside the Octagon, having won five straight contests. Nunes also becomes the first fighter to successfully defend the women’s bantamweight title following Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm in November 2015, earning a Performance of the Night bonus in the process.
“I know the girls can’t take my punches,” stated Nunes following the fight. “I know she’s gonna strike a little bit with me, but she see when I start to connect so much I know she’s gonna try to clinch with me.”
In the evening’s co-main event, undefeated bantamweight Cody Garbrandt transitioned from prospect into champion, as he dethroned Dominick Cruz, a two time UFC titleist, via unanimous decision.
Leading up to the fight, Cruz’s experience, along with his unique and elusive style, had him pegged as the clear favorite. But Garbrandt’s powerful hands became the deciding factor as he swept the scorecards, 48-47, 48-46, 48-46. The bout was named the UFC 207 Fight of the Night.
Garbrandt fired early, and often, dropping Cruz on numerous occasions. However, Cruz used his signature footwork and feints to set up a takedown in the opening round. Garbrandt returned the favor before the end of the first frame, in what would be the closest round of the five-round fight.
With a massive cut opening up along Cruz’s eyebrow in the third round, Garbrandt continued his forward pressure, trading in the pocket, while routinely taunting and calling the fight back to the center of the Octagon.
In the fourth, Garbrandt delivered his most dominant round, knocking Cruz to the canvas on three occasions. Still, Cruz returned to his feet to trade punches and kicks with Garbrandt, going the distance.
Garbrandt now becomes the fourth UFC bantamweight champion in history, joining Cruz, Renan Barao, and T.J. Dillashaw as the only fighters to hold the title.
“I’ve been waiting to hear that since I was 12 years old,” commented Garbrandt. “I grew up fighting, it’s all I know. Hats off to Dominick Cruz and his team at Alliance. He’s one of the best in the world and now I’m the best in the world. T.J. Dillashaw, come try me.”
Dillashaw did his part earlier in the night, dominating John Lineker en route to a unanimous decision.
Using his feints and fakes to set up his takedown game, Dillashaw controlled the entirety of the fifteen-minute contest, nullifying Lineker’s heavy hands and winging hooks.
In the second stanza, Dillashaw was particularly brilliant, battering Lineker with elbows and punches on the ground, taking the round 10-8. Dillashaw continued to impress in the third, and finishes the year with back-to-back wins, while distinguishing himself as the division’s number-one contender.
“I had nothing to prove, I just had to fight a tough guy. John Lineker is a beast,” stated Dillashaw. “I had to be smart. I’m not going to get into a slugfest with the guy, it’s his only weapon. I wanted to show how well-rounded I am.”
In a battle of top-15 welterweights, Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim took a split verdict over Belgium-born Tarec Saffiedine.
With the majority of the fight taking place in the clinch, both Kim and Saffiedine traded punches and kicks with neither man taking clear control of the bout. And while Kim and Saffiedine landed shots and secured takedowns, the action stalled in the second round.
The third frame began with a flurry of punches, as both Kim and Saffiedine, ranked ninth and twelfth, respectively, attempted to take control. But, the fight went the distance, and the split verdict was lopsided, with one judge awarding all three rounds to Saffiedine, while Kim took two out of three rounds on the other two cards.
“I watched the previous fights and I thought that I could win Fight of the Night,” stated Kim. “But Saffiedine has a great clinch game so it was hard to perform an exciting fight.”
Kicking of the UFC 207 main card, flyweight Ray Borg returned to the win column, dominating Louis Smolka for the entire three rounds.
Landing takedowns early, Borg capitalized on short grounded elbows and greuling tops position to control Smolka from the onset.
Attempting a rarely seen omoplata in the first round, Borg, who badly injured his ankle in the second round, swept the scorecards, cruising to a unanimous decision win, 30-27, 30-26, 30-26.
The loss marks a second straight for Smolka, who scrambled throughout the contest while attempting submission. But Borg’s boxing and top game was too strong, rolling with every Smolka sweep.
“I expected it to be a grappling match,” stated Borg. “I expected him to scramble more and be a little bit stronger. It was a good fight by Louis.”
Capping off the evening’s preliminary card, welterweight Neil Magny recorded a unanimous decision win over former UFC champion Johny Hendricks.
Using his sizeable reach to keep Hendricks on the outside, Magny utilized a vast array of kicking techniques. But Hendricks would eventually find his way into striking range and set up his takedown game, converting on multiple attempts throughout the contest.
However, Magny remained calm on the bottom, and was able to contort himself into position for a pair of triangle-choke submission attempts in the first and third rounds, delivering elbows and punches in volume.
And while Magny was unable to secure the submission, his diverse striking and submission attempts put him over the top on the judges’ scorecards.
“It is a mixed martial arts match, not a wrestling match. I definitely lost the wrestling match in that fight, but I won the striking and jiu jitsu aspects of it and that’s what got me the win today,” offered Magny following the fight. “I had myself winning rounds one and three, for sure. I know in round two I was put in a lot of bad positions and I wasn’t able to get my offense going, but I feel like I was the more offensive guy in both rounds one and three.”
Moving forward following the most successful year in the company’s history, the UFC begins its 2017 campaign on January 15 in Phoenix, Arizona with a rare Sunday show, as former two-division champion B.J. Penn makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon following two-and-a-half years away from the cage. Penn takes on undefeated prospect Yair Rodriguez.
UFC 207 Results
Amanda Nunes def. Ronda Rousey via TKO (punches) R1, 0:48
Cody Garbrandt def. Dominick Cruz via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-47, 48-46)
T.J. Dillashaw def. John Lineker via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Tarec Saffiedine via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Ray Borg def. Louis Smolka via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Neil Magny def. Johny Hendricks via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Antonio Carlos Junior def. Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alex Garcia def. Mike Pyle via KO (punch) R1, 3:34
Niko Price def. Brandon Thatch via tapout (arm-triangle choke) R1, 4:30
Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira ruled a No Contest (illegal knee to downed opponent) R1, 3:33
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