Never the Underdog: Despite Year-Long Absence, Rousey Expected to Win at UFC 207

Fightland Blog

By Tom Taylor

Photo by Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, news broke that former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will be taking on current champion Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 207 this December 30. The bout will mark Rousey’s first steps into the Octagon since she was levelled by a second-round head kick from Holly Holm last November.

Though Rousey is far and away the most dominant fighter the women’s bantamweight division has ever seen, she’ll likely have her hands full in this long-anticipated comeback fight.

In Nunes, she’ll face a striker who is probably even more powerful than Holm—even if she’s not as technically polished. If the returning great hasn’t sharpened her own stand-up arsenal, this could spell an early night for her. Nunes is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and a brown belt in Judo. While she’s nowhere near the grappler that Rousey is, she is still solid in that department, which could make it difficult for Rousey to get to work with her renowned judo. Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, Nunes is pure confidence, having recently told TMZ that she’s “200 percent” sure that she’ll defeat Rousey when the cage door closes this December. While Rousey has flaunted this kind of confidence in the past, her taking an entire year off to recover from her loss to Holm doesn’t suggest she’s especially sure of herself these days.

The point here is that, though Rousey stands out as one of the greatest female mixed martial artists ever, her comeback bout will be the furthest thing from a cake walk. Yet, once again, the odds suggest it will be.

Opening odds (via ESPN.com) pegged the former champ as a sizable -280 favorite. Nunes, meanwhile, has been identified as a +220 underdog. This means that it would require a successful bet of $280 on Rousey to win $100. A successful $100 bet on Nunes, meanwhile, would earn you $220.

Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Given the physical, technical, and mental strengths possessed by Nunes, and the many question marks surrounding the returning Rousey, these odds are bound to surprise some fans. Rousey’s being a betting favorite, however, is nothing new. In fact, the former champ has never been identified as an underdog over the course of her 13-fight career.

When she made her UFC debut against Liz Carmouche, she opened as a massive -1500 favorite. When she made the sophomore effort of her UFC career against Miesha Tate, she opened somewhere in the area of -1100. In her third UFC fight, which paired her with Sara McMann, she opened as a -705 favorite. Against Alexis Davis, she was -735. Against Cat Zingano, -750. Against Bethe Correia, she was all the way back up to -1500. And against Holm, the women who would kick her hype-train right off the tracks, Rousey opened as a -1250 favorite. Even in her Strikeforce salad days, Rousey never opened at anything below -230. The champ has always had the confidence of the odds-makers, and even against a powerhouse like Nunes, that’s still the case.

Of course, a loss to Nunes would certainly shake the odds-maker’s faith in her in any subsequent bouts. Yet even if Rousey defeats Nunes, she could well be pegged as the dog in her next fight. That next fight, after all, is expected to be against a similarly dominant force in Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Not long after announcing Rousey’s comeback against Nunes, UFC President Dana White also claimed that, should the former champ win this comeback, her next fight will be with Cyborg.

In Cyborg, Rousey would be facing a venomous striker with the kind of power typical of male welterweights. She’d be facing a juggernaut who has not lost a fight in more than a decade, and has knocked out her 11 most recent opponents. She’d be facing a fighter who could outweigh her by 20lbs or more by the time the cage door closes. So, while previous odds for this potential super fight have identified Rousey as a favorite at roughly -280, her looking anything short of spectacular against Nunes could result in a major shift in these odds. She could even find herself labelled as an underdog for the first time in her career. It’ll likely all depend on how she looks against Nunes on December 30. 


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Ronda Rousey Booked for UFC 207 Against Amanda Nunes