Ronda Rousey is one of the biggest superstars in MMA history and turned into a crossover celebrity over the past few years. She made her reputation with dominant performances inside the cage, finishing opponent after opponent in extremely short order. Then Holly Holm came along. Last November, Holm shattered Rousey's aura of invincibility, her title run and her undefeated record. Rousey entered into seclusion and has largely avoided the public and the media since. Now she returns to recapture her title with questions abound about her mental state following the shocking upset loss. Nunes is a powerful striker and high quality jiu jitsu artist who tends to do better earlier in fights than later. She won the title with a dominant stoppage of Miesha Tate at UFC 200. This is far and away the biggest fight of her career and it's hard to imagine there will ever be another contender.
Round 1. Nunes throws some big punches early and connects well to the jaw of Rousey. She hurt Rousey with punches and has her in big trouble by the cage. Nunes is pummeling Rousey and Herb Dean has to step in. That was a one sided destruction.
Winner: Amanda Nunes, TKO, round 1.
Dec. 30, 2016, 9:52 p.m.
I loved it, I showed people.
Amanda Nunes, on how much focus was on Ronda Rousey during the runup to the fight.
Dominick Cruz is a unique figure in MMA. The UFC bantamweight champion sports a 22-1 record with no unavenged losses but perhaps even more impressive is that he was able to work his way back to the title after major injuries derailed his career for the better part of four and a half years. His fighting style isn't something anyone was really doing before he came along and now has its imitators. He's also one of the best trash talkers in the game and has made many an opponent look silly with his words. Cody Garbrandt is more of a power striker with a 10-0 record and 9 knockouts. He trains out of the Alpha Male camp that has a longstanding rivalry with Cruz.
Round 1. Garbrandt lands the first punch early but Cruz answers back soon thereafter. Garbrandt connects with a two punch combination as Cruz moves in. Garbrandt lands a looping right hand. Garbrandt is taunting Cruz. Garbrandt is landing a number of punches and seems quite confident. Cruz is moving more but not landing a ton. Garbrandt moves in looking to land something big but ends up just swinging at air. Cruz lands a nice low kick. Cruz goes for a takedown but Garbrandt rolls through and ends up back on his feet. Garbrandt gets a takedown late but Cruz returns to his feet. 10-9 Garbrandt.
Round 2. Garbrandt nails Cruz with a big hook. Cruz responds by attacking back which often can be a mistake but Cruz catches Garbrandt with a hard hook of his own that appears to stun the challenger. Garbrandt continues to land solid punches as Cruz moves in. Garbrandt has Cruz timed better than many opponents and his hook in particular is his best blow. They're landing about the same amount but Garbrandt is connecting harder. Cruz goes for a takedown late. It's blocked but then they open up with wild punches. Garbrandt lands the best punch of the exchange. Close round. 10-9 Garbrandt.
With an uncertain future for Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor saying he's going to take a break, the UFC is in need of a new face to market to their fans and to continue to convert the mainstream sports audience.
They may have found it in Cody Garbrandt, who beat Dominick Cruz to win the bantamweight title in an epic match that left the former champion bloodied for a major cut over the right eye.
Garbrandt won a unanimous decision in five grueling, exhilirating rounds that left the fans in T-Mobile Arena wanting more.
The next fight on the card will determine the UFC bantamweight champion and this fight is likely to decide his next challenger. T.J. Dillashaw is a former champion himself and lost the title to Dominick Cruz in a hotly debated decision. Dillashaw comes from a wrestling background but has adapted well to the striking game with great speed and footwork. John Lineker is more of a straightforward power puncher and has won six straight fights.
Round 1. Dillashaw starts with a big head kick that flies over the head of Lineker. Dillashaw gets a takedown and looks to pass guard quickly. Dillashaw can't accomplish that goal so he lands punches from in guard. Lineker returns to his feet. Dillashaw continues to throw lots of kicks while Lineker looks to set up a power shot. Lineker lands his best blow of the fight, a hook, as he moves in on Dillashaw. 10-9 Dillashaw.
Round 2. Dillashaw gets a takedown 15 seconds in. He tries to take Lineker's back as Lineker stands up but cannot get it. Dillashaw connects with a hard kick to the body and gets another takedown. Dillashaw drops a series of elbows from top position. Lineker is swinging back defiantly from the bottom. Dillashaw is using some hard elbows late in the round and is really opening up on his opponent. 10-8 Dillashaw.
The welterweight division has silently built up a deep mix of championship contenders, leaving high level fighters like Kim and Saffiedine on the outside looking in. Kim sports a 21-3-1 (1 NC) record and has fought in the UFC since 2008. He is good at controlling the nature of a fight and has finishes in his last four wins. Saffiedine is the former Strikeforce welterweight champion and is a striking specialist.
Round 1. Kim moves into close range early. The fighters trade punches from inside and clinch by the cage. Saffiedine gets a takedown but Kim stands up. Kim uses a nice judo throw to take Saffiedine down but Saffiedine gets right back up and retains body control. The fighters work for position up against the cage. Kim lands a nice series of punches but Saffiedine answers with an overhand right. The one advantage Kim has in the first is that he's letting his hands go a lot more, which has to help him with the judges even if neither man is in firm control of the action. Saffiedine lands a knee and trip takedown late but Kim gets right back up. Tough round to score. 10-9 Saffiedine.
Round 2. Saffiedine lands a solid counter hook as Kim is moving in. Saffiedine goes for a takedown but it is stuffed. Kim keeps moving forward on Saffiedine. Kim lands a hard body kick and follows with some quality punches. Kim nearly gets a late takedown but Saffiedine is narrowly able to stay on his feet. 10-9 Kim.