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Rousey returns to challenge Nunes for former crown, Cruz clashes with Garbrandt at UFC 207

Lee Gormley | 31 December 2016

Amanda Nunes v Ronda Rousey

  • Women’s UFC bantamweight title fight
  • Saturday, December 31st
  • Scheduled for: 05:00 GMT
  • T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  • Live on BT Sport 3

Rousey v Nunes tips for fight night

Over a year since her first ever defeat at the hands of Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey makes her long-awaited return to the octagon this week as she challenges current women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes for the crown she previously held so dominantly.

Nunes stands in the way of Rousey making a successful return to the octagon.

Nunes stands in the way of Rousey making a successful return to the octagon.

Rousey (12-1) suffered a shock maiden setback in November last year when being brutally knocked out by Holm in Australia and has since been inactive, with the women’s 135lbs strap having switched hands twice since then.

Holm was eventually dethroned by Miesha Tate before Brazilian fighter Nunes (13-4) impressively choked her out inside one round at UFC 200, and will next face Rousey in the first defence of her crown in Las Vegas.

‘The Lioness’ will take to the T-Mobile Arena as the 11/10 outsider with Coral to prevail despite being the reigning champion, with Rousey entering proceedings at odds-on 8/11 to secure a successful return after a year’s absence.

Rousey focused on winning comeback

A clinical stand-up display from former champion Holm exposed weaknesses in Rousey’s defence that had not been witnessed before in their UFC 193 encounter, unleashing a variety of shots before ending the bout with a vicious round-house kick.

Rousey has since been absent from the sport, starring in Hollywood movies and nursing several reported injuries during her time away, but she is 11/10 to return with a submission success over South American champion Nunes.

The Ronda Rousey comeback is the focus of UFC 207 in Las Vegas.

The Ronda Rousey comeback is the focus of UFC 207 in Las Vegas.

The now 29-year-old is involved in an unusual media blackout ahead of her return, officially shunning any press duties, but she did briefly outline her intentions when facing off with Nunes.

“I don’t care about anything except for winning this fight and I’m not spending energy on anything else,” stated Rousey.

The California-born fighter reigned as bantamweight title holder for three years and stormed her way to six consecutive defences in the UFC before that Holm stoppage. She is 11/2 to KO her Brazilian foe on her anticipated first outing in over a year.

Nunes out to spoil Rousey return

Having recovered from a previous loss to Cat Zingano back in 2014, Nunes has rampantly rallied to top of the pile in the division, securing wins over Shayna Baszler, Sara McMann and Valentina Shevchenko before dethroning Tate to reign supreme as champion.

The 28-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt will take to the octagon at 5/1 to submit Rousey and is highly confident of ruining Rousey’s comeback dream.

'The Lioness' will aim to defend her crown for the first time.

‘The Lioness’ will aim to defend her crown for the first time.

“I’ve been training jiu-jitsu since I started. Jiu-jitsu and judo together,” she said. “I know how to block the judo throws very well. I know how to use my hips very well. I know if Ronda Rousey comes back I’m going to keep the belt.

“I’m going to beat Ronda Rousey and wait for the next [challenge]. I’m going to prove everybody one more time I deserve to be here.”

Fresh off the back of her title victory over Tate, Nunes will hold no fear of facing Rousey on her return to the octagon, with UFC 207 set to see these two women’s forces collide on Vegas soil.

Garbrandt looks to dethrone champion Cruz

In the co-headline event in Nevada, UFC bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz (22-1) defends his crown against dangerous challenger and long-standing rival Cody Garbrandt (10-0).

Garbrandt has finally gained his desired title shot against Cruz.

Garbrandt has finally gained his desired title shot against Cruz.

The defending title holder boasts wins over many of Garbrandt’s stablemates, most recently over now retired fighter Urijah Faber, and he is odds-on 10/11 to earn a trademark points decision triumph in his latest outing.

Although, undefeated contender Garbrandt has been one of the most eye-catching prospects of late, knocking out all who has stood before. Following three straight first-round stoppage victories over Augusto Mendes, Thomas Almeida and Takeya Mizugaki, the Ohio-born challenger is 21/10 to KO Cruz here.

Can Cruz produce another solid display and defend his title?

Can Cruz produce another solid display and defend his title?

The pair have been involved in a heated war of words for some time now but will finally put that to bed, as they collide for the UFC bantamweight crown in Sin City.

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