Ronda Rousey vs. Amanda Nunes Pre-Fight Analysis - UFC 207

2016 is almost over, and the UFC is wrapping up the year with one fantastic card. UFC 207 takes place this Friday night from Las Vegas, Nevada. Fans will witness one of the most anticipated returns in combat sports history, as Ronda Rousey steps into the octagon once again to fight current champion Amanda Nunes for the female bantamweight title. This is my pre-fight analysis. Let's get to it:

Several weeks following UFC 193, MMA fans around the world began to forget the things Ronda Rousey accomplished during her monstrous title run. 2016 was the biggest year in the sport's history when it comes to commercial growth, and as new eyes were brought into the UFC, the idea that Ronda was an average fighter that crumbled the second she faced a competent striker spread like wildfire.

Make no mistake about it, Rousey is special. Completely taking over a sport and reigning supreme for multiple years is no easy task, much more so in mixed martial arts. She managed to do that, and she made it look easy. You can't forget we're dealing with a Judo specialist that successfully transitioned into fighting. Remember her snapping girls' arms off within a round, twice a year? Sure, she had significant holes in her game. In her worst possible matchup (stylistically speaking), Holly Holm exposed her, but she defeated all other great opposition, including three of the four women that have defeated Amanda (Cat Zingano, Sarah D'Alelio, and Alexis Davis). It's entirely logical to assume that she spent the past year fixing her boxing deficiencies.

Now that I've reestablished the challenger's credentials, let's take a look at the champion.

Amanda Nunes is arguably the strongest, most well-rounded female bantamweight on the planet. On the feet, she perfectly balances her high accuracy with her fight-changing power. If the bout transitions to the ground, this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt will quickly dispatch you. Furthermore, she possesses some of nastiest ground and pound in the UFC. There's no doubt the Brazilian champ is a tough opponent for Ronda's return.

Predicting this fight's outcome is extremely challenging. You can make a case for both women. I could see Rousey stepping in, engaging in the clinch, and finishing Amanda if she gets aggressive and blindly moves forward. On the other side, saying Nunes will maintain range, patiently pick her shots, and catch Rowdy with a bomb that wraps the evening is by no means an improbable statement.

While I've been going back-and-forth over the past month or two, it is Ronda's reclusiveness towards the public and press that sealed the deal for me. The mental state and psychology of both competitors are crucial to making any prediction. See, Nunes is coming off the greatest moment in her professional career, while Ronda is trying to bounce back from her lowest point. That wouldn't necessarily mean that Amanda will be victorious, but Ronda's secrecy and anger towards media, fellow members of the roster, and fans is concerning.

When athletes such as Georges St-Pierre, Conor McGregor, and Misha Tate tasted defeat, they didn't lock themselves in a safe for a year, refusing to even acknowledge their loss. They accepted the result while recognizing their shortcomings. This humble, dedicated attitude is what brought them back to the top. In such a close fight, I believe the mental matters. I think the woman that will step into the octagon this Friday night is an angry, resentful Rousey looking to furiously scream 'told you so' when her hand gets raised. But as soon as she eats a full-power shot, panic will take over, and she'll crumble under the massive pressure.

Striking Advantage: Amanda Nunes
Grappling Advantage: Ronda Rousey
Questions to Ask: Can Nunes keep the fight at long range? How much did Ronda's boxing improve while she was out?
X-Factor: Ronda's mental state
Prediction: Amanda Nunes

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