Ronda Rousey returns to the octagon for the first time since a huge upset defeat at the hands of Holly Holm, but Jake Kirby thinks the MMA legend will soon be back to winning ways...
"I'm expecting Nunes to come out hard in the first round, in an attempt to try and overwhelm the potentially fragile Rousey. But those would be the wrong tactics to deploy, and I think it's going to cost Nunes."
It's been more than a year since we last saw the unprecedented Queen of Mixed Martial Arts, Ronda Rousey, defeated for the first time in her professional fighting career at the hands of savvy striker Holly Holm.
A lot has changed since then - Conor McGregor became a two weight world champion, Jon Jones received yet another suspension, and Donald Trump became President-elect - but there's every reason to think it'll be business as usual when Rousey gets back in the octagon. This Saturday, December 31, Rousey makes her highly anticipated return against newly crowned Women's Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, in a title fight which is sure to be a fiery affair.
So what of the once seen as 'invincible' Ronda Rousey? Will the inevitable ring rust and potentially jarred confidence be as much of an Achilles heal as many fans are predicting, or will 'Rowdy' waltz back into the octagon looking better than ever, silencing her doubters en route to title reign number two? I'm siding with the latter.
Nunes, the champion,,is a powerful striker, who also owns a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Her last performance was a pretty brutal demolition of then-champion-now-retired Miesha Tate. Her record of 13-4 is one of the better in the division, however something to note is that three of her four losses have come via knockout/TKO, so her chin is suspect to say the least.
On the other side of the octagon we have Ronda Rousey, who up until her last fight was viewed as unbeatable. She owns the best judo base in all of MMA, and uses it to open up submission opportunities with regularity. Rousey has openly admitted that after her loss to Holm, she battled severe depression, and she didn't know whether she would ever return to the sport. This, coupled with the fact that she hasn't fought competitively after a year, are all concerns to factor in when deciding which way to bet on this fight.
Holm used the perfect formula for beating Rousey. She stayed on the back foot and tagged Rousey with vicious counters as she darted in trying to work her infamous takedowns. Nunes is a solid striker but her style doesn't suggest she can follow the blueprint that Holm set out. Could she alter her game and be content with countering Rousey? In theory, yes, but I just don't see it happening, and that's why I can't get away from backing Ronda Rousey to win at a very generous 8/11 on the Sportsbook.
It's hard to see this one going the distance, especially given it's a five round contest. Rousey has never been to the judges' scorecards in any of her 13 professional fights, and Nunes has only been the distance once. I'm expecting Nunes to come out hard in the first round, in an attempt to try and overwhelm the potentially fragile Rousey. But those would be the wrong tactics to deploy, and I think it's going to cost Nunes. She has been known to fade as the fight wears on, so I've thrown some money at Ronda Rousey to win in Round 2 at 15/2 on the Sportsbook, and I couldn't help myself backing Ronda Rousey to win in Round 3 at a juicy 13/1. I think 'Rowdy' will survive the early onslaught, and begin to impose her game in the second round. She's bound to be nervous, so I'm expecting a cagey first round from the former champion.
Love her or hate her, Rousey is the pioneer for women's MMA, and I firmly believe that this will be one of the best title fights we have ever seen. She's never lost in Vegas, and I think we're set for some serious fireworks right in time for New Years Eve.
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