Women's Bantamweight Championship Fight: Amanda Nunes vs Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey - after more than a year out - is back!
Perhaps slightly unusual to see Rousey come out first, but that hasn't robbed the audience of their welcoming gusto. She looks calm and focused, but one can't help but wonder if the year off would have affected her adversely.
Does she have ring rust? How is she faring, mentally, after that devastating knockout at the hands (feet) of Holly Holm?
We won't have to wait long to find out, as Amanda Nunes makes her entrance.
Bruce Buffer announces the two fighters. No prizes for guessing who the audience is firmly behind.
This is more like the Ronda Rousey that we know - amped up and ready to go. Much will be proven in the next 25 minutes. (if it even goes that long)
A chance for redemption for one, a chance for etching her name in the history books for another. Let's go!
They come out swinging! Amanda Nunes means business as she comes out throwing vicious jabs.
Ronda literally doesn't know what hit her, right from the first punch! Ronda is hurt by the very first punch, as she stumbles away.
Amanda Nunes comes after her, lighting her up "like a christmas tree", in Rogan's words.
Ronda Rousey doesn't have any answer to this onslaught! All it takes is 48 seconds of Round 1 for the referee to deem that Ronda Rousey just doesn't have the answer to Nunes.
Left hook, right hook, lead straight! Rousey has absolutely no clue what hit her. This is arguably the end of Rousey's career.
You could see it in her eyes. She was dejected when Herb Dean stopped the fight. Her eyes betrayed the fact that this was it.
Goodbye Ronda. It's been a pleasure.
Amanda Nunes, what a champion she is turning out to be!
Result: Amanda Nunes def. Ronda Rousey via TKO in 0:48 seconds in Round 1
Bantamweight Title Bout: Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt
The Champion comes out as he usually does, fluid and switching stances, and is taunted by the challenger who feigns and switches his stances too, as if in reply. Garbrandt continues to taunt and gesture at Cruz everytime he is close to landing.
The Challenger keeps landing leg kicks to keep the Dominator at bay. Cruz lands a huge takedown but No Love immediately scrambles to his feet.
Cody takes Cruz down, which is a rarity and continues to stick his tongue out as the round comes to an end. The challenger finishes the round looking the better of the two men.
Garbrandt's movement seems fantastic and composed as Cruz chases him with a combination that lands partially. No Love catches Cruz but the Champion immediately replies with a hard right that could have wobbled the challenger.
Cruz continues to employ his false starts to close the distance while the challenger looks to catch him on the counter. No Love lands a huge left hook but Cruz seems to eat with no issues. Garbrandt continues to work the leg and the body with kicks but remains unsuccessful with lunging right hands that Cruz slips with characteristic ease.
Cruz lands a good counter right hand after Garbrandt attempts another leg kick. The round ends after a flurry from both fighters. The Champion looks like took this round as the two men return to their corners.
Both men come out swinging and No Love lands hard twice. A headbutt during the initial exchange cuts the champion above his left eye. Cruz is bleeding profusely and Garbrandt lands another. The challenger continues to taunt Cruz and maintains distance, while he continues to look for composed counter strikes.
Cruz attempts a wild right that the 25-year-old slips with ease. Garbrandt shows some excellent head movement and evades a four-punch combination and sticks his tongue out. Cruz continues to lunge in and finally connect with a right but doesn't seem to hurt Garbrandt.
No Love looks confident as he starts the round confidently and both men begin with another flurry of exchanges. Garbrandt lands a huge right hook that drops Cruz, who immediately gets back to his feet and looks largely untroubled. The Champion continues to switch stances and maintain his composure.
Garbrandt's head movement continues to be spectacular as Cruz just can't seem to land. Cruz attempts a lazy head kick that the challenger avoids with ease. Cruz continues to switch stances and feint to try and set up an attack but to no avail. Garbrandt lands a heavy right hook that drops Cruz again but not for long as the Champ get backs up. Cruz goes back to the corner looking like the worse of the two.
Cruz needs to finish this fight as the fifth round begins, and Garbradt lands a good kick to the face as Cruz leans to the side. Cruz attempts a flying knee that is quashed by the challenger with ease. Garbrandt continues to mock Cruz by dropping into a push-up position after the Champ lands a leg kick. Cruz attempts a takedown that is squished, followed by one from No Love which is also easily stopped.
Cruz continues to put pressure on the challenger looking for the finish but No Love forces him to the cage. Garbrandt lifts his hands in the air with five seconds remaining and the two men embrace as the fight comes to an end.
A surprisingly convincing and composed performance by the young Garbrandt, who seemed to out-Cruz Cruz through the fight.
Result: Cody Garbrandt def. Dominick Cruz via Unanimous Decision to win the Bantamweight Title. (48-46 48-47 48-47)
Dillashaw comes out, loose and fluid, giving Lineker different looks and snaps out a headkick that narrowly misses.
They scramble for a bit, up close with each other, before taking the fight back onto the feet where they continue measuring each other. TJ hits another headkick out of nowhere, which Lineker just eats like breakfast before catching the leg and taking TJ down.
It's TJ 's turn to scramble up, but no sooner do they get back up, TJ shoots for a takedown and maintains top position for a bit. Though he doesn't land big, it is still valuable control time here for the former Champion.
It's been all TJ this round, weaving in and out, and hitting Lineker from angles, though with nothing fight-changing. Lineker on the other hand, waits for TJ to get in range before wildly swinging in trademark fashion. Round 1 sounds to an end.
Round 2 and more of the same. TJ's movement allows him to pick off Lineker and get out before the Brazilian can return fire. He's also mixing in takedowns with impeccable timing, maintaining top control and landing a good number of shots from the top.
He's raining down with hammer fists and heavy elbows, but Lineker's hands aren't the only ones made out of stone, it would seem. He's taking punishment like it was Christmas came early, though it's apparent who is winning this fight.
TJ is bringing the whooping on Lineker here, but the Brazilian's chin is just holding out. Somehow. Those were around to 40 unanswered strikes to close out the round, leaving Lineker barely hanging on.
All TJ Dillashaw was Round 2.
TJ opens up with a front kick to the chest in Round 3, followed up with a beautifully set up body kick. He fakes another stance change and nails another takedown. The way Dillashaw has been mixing up his striking with his wrestling has been pretty masterful.
He maintains top position again, showering Lineker with the base of his fists before attempting an audacious calf crank. Lineker toughs it out, but only long enough to leave around a minute in the final round.
Lineker gets back up to his feet with a scramble, but he's not able to close the distance sufficiently on TJ to land any real power, leaving TJ to circle out and see out the clock.
Easy victory for TJ Dillashaw in a fight that he dominated.
Result: TJ Dillashaw def. John Lineker via UD (30-26,30-26,30-26)
Lineker lifts Dillashaw up sportingly as the victor is announced, and TJ makes the most of the moment to thank his coaches, before unleasing a verbal tirade on Dominick Cruz!
Welterweight Bout: Tarrec Saffedine vs Dong Hyun Kim
Dong Huyn Kim closes the distance right off the bat, with every intention to make this a grappling contest. Saffedine isn't backing away, as he floors Kim with a couple of exquisitely timed sweeps.
Kim is up in a jiffy, however, and almost like someone reminded them, they begin to stand and trade. Kim's hands-down, press-forward approach has Saffedine on the backfoot, but both fighters aren't making substantial inroads with their strikes.
They alternate between spates of wildish exchanges and clinch battles; a trend which is broken when Saffedine takes him down with another foot trip. The buzzer sounds for Round 1 - Saffedine should have edged that one by virtue of his takedowns.
Kim soldiers forward, hands down and head tucked in, and looks to initiate the clinch by tying Saffedine up against the cage to kick off Round 2. Saffedine is holding his own in these close-quarter exchanges.
Kim's pressure has been constant, but Saffedine has arguably had the more telling strikes and moments in the fight thus far. The crowd is getting a little restless here as the fight is increasingly becoming clinch-heavy.
They break briefly, and Saffedine manages to land a head kick that Kim eats. Kim is relentless in his smothering pressure, but it isn't yielding any substantial offense for the Korean.
They close out a largely uneventful round attempting to wing punches at each other, but like this fight, they have mostly been off the mark.
The buzzer signals Round 3. What.Is.Happening?
Both men are at each other's throats! Wildly throwing haymakers! Saffedine manages to glean some space and rattles Kim with another headkick! The crowd responds throatily to the action!
But hey, it proves to be no more than a short burst of energy as Kim goes back to his initial plan of pressuring Saffedine against the cage and holding him there.
"Over the years, Kim has the tendency to start fast and fade" - Mike Goldberg.
Never have truer words been spoken. Kim aimlessly plods forward at this point, neither effective in his offense nor securing a takedown. Saffedine, for his part, has been taken out of his element of comfort and made to brawl.
This has devolved into an ugly and edgy fight that is slightly boring to watch and certainly hard to score. The crowd boos to close out Round 3. Hmm.
Result: Dong Hyun Kim def.Tarrec Saffedine via SD (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
What were the judges watching there? :O Then again, even I'm not sure!
Smolka, visibly the rangier and longer fighter, stays on the outside and utilizes his jab, but Ray Borg is a bundle of energy, bouncing around and giving him various looks from different angles.
Borg is in and out pretty quickly, prompting Smolka to throw as well, and in one such exchange, Borg takes him down with a lightning fast double leg.
He threatens with a D'Arce choke, and when Smolka squirms out of the hold, he does well in maintaining top position and landing heavy hammer fists. No sooner does he have Smolka covering up, Borg switches to an armbar attempt that forces him to weave out of trouble again.
One of those hammer fists open up a cut below Smolka's eye, and the bloody Hawaiian has to hang on to close out the round. One nothing to Ray Borg.
Round 2 and further evidence of Ray Borg just looking faster, stronger and more sprightly of the two fighters. He rallies off with knees and swinging hooks leading to a clinch.
No sooner has the distance been closed, Borg takes Smolka down again and lands a massive right hand to the head. Smolka isn't content to take punishment and scrambles to find a way out of the predicament.
Brilliant top control from Borg however, as he again ends up on top and this time, chooses to attack with a head-arm triangle to close out the round. Smolka showing good defence to hang in there, but not to stem the tide.
This is interesting, Borg tells his cornermen that his ankle is broken, but doesn't betray any limp when he gets back onto his feet for the third and final round.
Smolka has to win this round big to salvage this fight, but Borg is on him like a rash again. He takes him down with ease and looks to work another arm triangle from top position.
It's sunk in deep, and Smolka displays inhuman toughness in not tapping to that. Eventually, Borg eases on the pressure and chooses to let the submission go. That is all the opening that Smolka needs as he scrambles back up to his feet.
Borg, however, is in no mood to relent as he presses forward with winging hooks to close out the final 30 seconds, with Smolka returning fire intermittently. Ray Borg with an impressive performance here againt Louis Smolka.
He's definitely one to look out for in the future.
Result: Ray Borg def. Louis Smolka via UD (30-27,30-26,30-26)
Johny Hendricks, who misses weight again at 173.5 pounds, goes up against up-and-comer Neil Magny. Magny has tons of heart and an ever-evolving skill set, while former Champion Hendricks may be off his game mentally due to his recurring weight issues.
Magny looks light on his feet and quick with his rangy jabs. He has an eleven inch reach advantage over Hendricks. Take a second for that to digest.
It's pretty simple here. Magny looks to maintain distance with his kicks and jabs, while Hendricks will use his wrestling to threaten the takedown, while he aims to close the distance and land those punishing left hooks.
And almost on cue, Hendricks presses Magny against the cage and shoots for a really low and deep double leg takedown. He hasn't mounted him, but is still able to reel off a couple of strikes from top position as Magny squirms to try and make it back to his feet.
Excellent work here from Hendricks to keep him pressed against the mat though, as he tries to land more ground and pound. Magny has his guard up and active, and snaps on a triangle over Hendrick's head out of nowhere!
He simultaneously attacks with an armbar as well, as Hendricks toughs it out and hangs on to see out Round 1. Close shave there.
Ground 2 begins much the same way as Round 1, with Magny trying to use his jabs and being light on his feet. This time however, it doesn't take long for Hendricks to close the distance as he slips under a hook and gets a body lock on him.
He drags him to the mat before threatening with a head and arm triangle briefly, but very aware scrambling from Magny to take the fight back to the feet. Hendricks, however, is relentless as he takes him down again.
More top control for Hendricks but he is prevented from advancing further by Magny's active guard. Magny struggles to get back to his feet and manages to do so with 20 seconds on the clock, but this should be another Round in the former Champion's column.
Round 3 and Neil Magny has to pull a rabbit out of the hat here to turn this fight in his favour. Magny looks to once again stay on the outside and use his jab effectively.
Hendricks also seems to be happy to stand and trade here, as he is using his head movement to get into the pocket and throw bombs. Just when he's given Magny something to think about with his striking, he shoots for another double leg.
Elite wrestling credentials of Hendricks coming to the fore here as he takes him down and asserts top position again, with little over 30 seconds left in the fight. Out of nowhere, again, Magny locks in a head triangle and this time, it looks tighter than the one in Round 1!
Magny tees off with elbows from the bottom to close out the fight but could it have been a classic case of too little, too late?
Result: Neil Magny def. Johny Hendricks via UD (29-28,29-28,29-28)
Is that a robbery? Or have judges looked past merely 'laying and praying' finally? Controversy galore as a disbelief-ridden Johny Hendricks trudges back.
Middleweight Bout: Marvin Vettori vs. Antonio Carlos Jr.
Italian Marvin Vettori up against fellow grappler and Brazilian Antonio Carlos Jr. This should be a technical whiz on the mat.
Mark Smith waves the fighters forward, and Vettori presses forward immediately. While trying to maintain his distance, Carlos Jr.'s rangefinder hand accidentally brushes against the Italian's eye.
We take a brief respite as Vettori is checked by the medical staff at ringside, before getting the fight started again. Carlos opens up with kicks and is trying to maintain range with a long jab, but Vettori is doing a good job of breaking his rhythm with intermittent flurries.
As of now, Antonio is managing to steer clear, but hey, what's this? Another eye poke! The referee corners Carlos Jr. and warns him to keep his fingers balled into a fist.
They resume, only for another stoppage almost immediately as it is Vettori this time, who is cautioned for an eye-poke on Carlos Jr. Once the referee does his bit, they engage again, but this time Carlos Jr. comes forward with a heavy kick to the body of Vettori before shooting in for a single leg.
Vettori hobbles on one leg, but manages to avert the takedown as they clinch against the cage. Antonio Carlos Jr. really committing to a takedown here and manages to get it, but only for a few seconds as Vettori pops right back up to his feet.
It's Vettori's turn to return the favour as he looks to take Carlos Jr. down, but the buzzer sounds to signal the end of Round 1.
The first fight of the night that has seen Round 2 so far, Vettori and Carlos Jr. resume on the same vein that they ended the first round in; at each other's throats and looking to impose their gameplan on the fight.
Vettori manages to close the distance and wrap his hands around Carlos Jr. from behind, peppering him with a couple of clubbing blows to the face and knees to the thigh, before the Brazilian spins out of the body lock.
They engage again, and Vettori takes him down almost immediately. He maintains top control, lands a few elbows from mount, before locking in a nasty looking D'Arce choke that would have had many tapping out frantically.
Carlos Jr., however, signals a thumbs up to the referee before popping his head out of the choke. He isn't quite in the clear yet as Vettori still maintains top control to see out the round with strong ground and pound.
That could well leave the fight tied at a round apiece.
We cut back to Round 3 as Vettori follows up a bodykick with a clinch to tie up Carlos Jr. against the cage. The Brazilian is expecting the pressure this time around, as he reverses position and takes Vettori down.
He struggles to maintain top position as Vettori gets back to his feet as quickly as he hits the ground, and Carlos Jr. is left having to press for the takedown again.
They both get back to their feet and separate from the clinch, looking to indulge in a bit of stand-up. Neither lands clearly but Carlos Jr. manages to push Vettori back against the cage, before shooting for a single leg.
He just about manages to get it but Vettori pops right back up. This does count as control for Carlos Jr, however.
Antonio Carlos Jr. applies the pressure and searches for a submission, with Vettori defending as the clock runs down for Round 3.
First fight tonight that goes the distance.
Result: Antonio Carlos Jr. def Marvin Vettori via UD (29-28,29-28,29-28)
Mike Pyle is a time-tested veteran, while Alex Garcia - for all intents and humourous purposes - is a Hector Lombard doppleganger. Get some of that.
They engage carefully, neither man willing to overcommit, but it is obvious who is looking to knock the other's block off right from the onset. Garcia manages to cut Pyle off and trap him against the cage, before shooting for a takedown.
He maintains top position over Pyle while landing knees to the side of his body, but Pyle manages to initiate a scramble and they both get back to the feet. They circle each other, with Pyle a little more willing to walk forward and engage.
Just as it looks like all that groundwork may have begun to gas Garcia, Pyle walks into an overhand right from hell. Just one punch lays him out, as his body stiffens and goes down.
Garcia walks off, perhaps not quite with the panache of Mark Hunt. My oh my! What a vicious knockout!
Result: Alex Garcia def. Mike Pyle via KO at 3:34 of Round 1
We cut to FS1 Prelims with Joe Rogan hyping this fight as one between two fully functional strikers. Should make up for the debacle that was the Means - Oliveira encounter.
Right off the bat, it's painfully obvious how much longer and larger Thatch looks than Price. They seem to open up with their approach at odds with one another; while Thatch looks to maintain distance and strike, Price is clearly looking for the takedown.
They clinch briefly, off which Price lands a nice left hook while Thatch looks to steer clear and into range. But Price shoots for a single leg takedown, and while it isn't immediately successful, the ensuing scramble allows him to use a leg trip and complete it eventually.
They go back and forth on the ground, with Thatch briefly threatening with a kimura from the bottom, but Price does well to maintain top position through the scrambles and locks in an arm triangle.
He gets his body completely on the side that maximises the pressure on Thatch's neck and squeezes. Brandon Thatch has little option but to tap out and provide some respite to his windpipes.
Statement made by Niko Price on his UFC debut!
Result: Niko Price def. Brandon Thatch by submission (arm triangle) at 4:30 in Round 1
UFC Fight Pass Prelims: Tim Means vs Alex Oliveira
Alex Oliveira, who last disposed of Will Brooks, is up against Tim Means in what should be an intriguing affair to kick off the night's entertainment. Due to 2 fights falling through, the number of bouts featured on Fight Pass have been reduced, leaving this affair as the sole flag bearer.
This could so easily have been on the main card.
Nice to hear Goldie doing his final show. Many people may have reservations about his commentating style, but in all fairness, his style did reach out to many people.
Anyway, the fight gets started.
Means starts by throwing a flurry of leg kicks to back Oliveira up. Perhaps in an effort to mix it up, the Brazilian shoots for the takedown, which is reversed masterfully by Means.
He then tries to assert top position, but it's too early in the fight and too strong an opponent to allow that easily. They scramble and get back up to their feet.
Means' range seems to be a little troubling for Oliveira, who lunges forward with strikes in order to close the distance. One of those attempts, with a lashing body kick, seeps through Means' defence and sends him tumbling backwards.
Oliveira swarms him, in an attempt to end this fight early, but the American isn't hurt enough to cede that easily. He scrambles back up against the cage and puts Oliveira on the ground.
As they jostle for position against the cage, Means ends up with Oliveira cornered against the cage, with one of his knees on the ground, but both the hands protecting the face.
He lands a series of vicious knees against the face, forcing Dan Mirgliotta to step in the veer him away. Oliveira, severely wobbled and hurt, falls onto the mat and is promptly helped onto a stool and attended to by the medical staff.
This doesn't look like a stoppage, but instead like Means is being penalised for his knees.
Meanwhile, Marc Ratner clarifies on air that it wasn't illegal as neither of Oliveira's hands was on the ground, meaning that the requisite 3 points of contact with the ground that constitutes an illegal strike wasn't present.
But the referee calls it as a No Contest, and Bruce Buffer announces it as such. This is highly controversial, and Tim Means is letting the UFC know exactly what he thinks.
Disgruntled and upset, Means has a go at the media members at ringside as well; well, at least those that referred to him as simply a 'wrestler'.
Well, it wasn't a glorious start to the night of fights, but no shortage of drama here.
Welcome to our coverage of UFC 207. Follow all the action and in-depth play-by-play commentary as Ronda Rousey makes her long-awaited comeback.
Also in action, Bantamweight king Dominick Cruz defends his belt against hard-hitting Cody Garbrandt - the latest soldier sent after him from Team Alpha Male. Who will emerge victorious in what has quickly become one of the most personal feuds of the year?
Further down on the card is former Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who looks to earn his rematch against Cruz. Standing in his way, however, is another knockout artist in John Lineker. The next contender for the Bantamweight crown will likely be decided in this fight.
Follow this section, right from the early prelims.
UFC 207 PPV Main Event: 135 lbs.: UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey UFC 207 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET): 135 lbs.: Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt 135 lbs.: T.J. Dillashaw vs. John Lineker 170 lbs.: Tarec Saffiedine vs. Dong Hyun Kim 125 lbs.: Ray Borg vs. Louis Smolka UFC 207 "Prelims" Undercard (8 p.m. ET): 170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny 185 lbs.: Marvin Vettori vs. Antonio Carlos Jr. 170 lbs.: Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia 170 lbs.: Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price UFC 207 "Prelims" Undercard on UFC Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET) 170 lbs.: Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira