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UFC 207: Amanda Nunes ends Ronda Rousey’s comeback bid in first-round stunner

Ronda Rousey returned to the octagon Friday for the first time since her beat-down loss 13 months earlier, and she was victimized again by a head-rattling flurry of fists that finished her in even quicker form.

Forty-eight seconds into the first round, following a four-punch combination that capped a continued assault of blows landed by UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, Rousey was counted out by technical knockout by referee Herb Dean.

“This moment is my moment,” Brazil’s Nunes (14-4) said in the octagon afterward. 

“Right now, I’m the champion.

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“I know [fans] love Ronda Rousey, but I was really ready for this fight. I knew this was going to happen. I’m the best on the planet.”

As for Rousey (12-2), who has already said she was nearing the end of her fighting career, Nunes speculated, “Maybe she’ll retire and go into the movies.”

The scene of Rousey’s entry, complete with her fierce-faced walk-in to Joan Jett singing “Bad Reputation,” conjured memories of her brilliant past. But nothing that happened in the octagon reminded of anything other than her second-round, head-kick knockout defeat in November 2015 to Holly Holm in Australia.

Venice’s Rousey was immediately greeted by a left hand to the face from Nunes and the challenger’s head was then rocked back by a big right. Nunes popped punches on Rousey at will, and more rights backed Rousey across the octagon, with Nunes chasing to deliver the kill.

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Dean stepped in after the telling combination, convinced the former champion who brought women’s fighting to the UFC would only be subjected to further damage.

Rousey hunkered down this camp in Glendale, refusing to participate in the usual slate of mandatory interviews, with the UFC delivering a message she needed no distractions to focus on regaining her belt.

But all that made no difference to Nunes.

Instead, it was Nunes celebrating what could be her own compelling ride considering her dominance with back-to-back first-round finishes over Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey and her personal story as the first openly gay champion in combat sports history.

“Come on, guys,” Nunes implored to the standing-room-only crowd at T-Mobile Arena who strongly supported Rousey at introduction but came to support Nunes. “These other girls work hard like Ronda Rousey.”

Rousey issued a statement Saturday to ESPN, which said, “Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year. However, sometimes — even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly — it doesn’t work how you planned. I take pride in seeing how far the women’s division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda.

“I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future.”

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In the co-main event, Cody Garbrandt gained a measure of satisfaction for his Sacramento gym owner and just-retired fighter Urijah Faber by claiming a unanimous-decision triumph over San Diego’s Dominick Cruz by scores of 48-46, 48-47, 48-46.

The 25-year-old Garbrandt (11-0) dropped Cruz (22-2) once in the third and his punches sent Cruz to the canvas four times in the fourth as the 31-year-old champion failed to avoid the punishment, especially in the late rounds he hoped would reveal a conditioning advantage.

The heavily tattooed Garbrandt, seen by UFC President Dana White as potentially one of the organization’s biggest stars, was able to land more punches on the elusive Cruz than the champion had expected and one of those cut Cruz badly over the left eye in the third.

“Hats off to Dominick for making me a better fighter,” Garbrandt said. “He’s a champion for a reason, one of the best. Now I’m the best.”

That answered Faber’s two losses to Cruz in their fierce trilogy rivalry in which Cruz once twice.

“It’s been a great journey. I wouldn’t be here without the support of all of them,” Garbrandt said with Faber behind him.

Former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, a Cal State Fullerton product, clinched his shot at his former training partner Garbrandt by dominating second-ranked John Lineker by three scores of 30-26.

Dillashaw started the convincing triumph with a first-round takedown, inflicting damage with punches to the head. In the second, Dillashaw routed Lineker by getting atop him and sounding a chorus of hard punches and elbows to the head.

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He backed Lineker to the cage with a punch in the third.

“That’s my belt, I want it back,” said Dillashaw, who lost it to Cruz in January.

“If I don’t get the title shot, you know this thing is rigged.”

Garbrandt responded, “T.J., come try me.”

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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