Earlier this month, it was announced that former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey would finally be making her return to the Octagon in the main event of UFC 207 on December 30. Rousey will make this return against the division’s current champion Amanda Nunes, who won the title with a first-round decimation of Miesha Tate in the main event of July’s UFC 200.
Shortly after UFC 207’s massive main event was announced, the card expanded with the addition of a whopping five welterweight showdowns: scraps between Sabah Homasi and Brandon Thatch, Mike Pyle and Alex Garcia, Tim Means and Alex Oliveira, Matt Brown and Tarec Saffiedine, and most notably, a battle between long-time contender Neil Magny and former champ Johny Hendricks. Needless to say, the year-end card is already looking fantastic.
Yet given that today’s typical UFC card features anywhere from 11 to 14 fights, we know that UFC 207 is still far from complete, and late this week, the card experienced yet another growth spurt with the addition of two monumental bouts.
The first of these new fights will be a collision of former heavyweight champions, as Cain Velasquez takes on Fabricio Werdum. Velasquez and Werdum, of course, have plenty of history together. The two first met back in June of 2015, when Velasquez held the heavyweight division’s undisputed title, and Werdum had become the interim champion while Velasquez recovered from a long stretch of injuries. On that night, Werdum weathered an early storm to submit an exhausted Velasquez in the third round, and claim the undisputed heavyweight crown in the process.
In his next bout thereafter, Werdum paid for some ill-advised over-aggression when he was knocked stiffed by Stipe Miocic, who still sits on the divisional throne. Luckily, the former champion was able to rebound from this ugly championship loss in his most recent appearance, when he handed Travis Browne a unanimous decision loss after three truly bizarre rounds of fighting. Velasquez, meanwhile, rebounded from his loss to Werdum with a win over the same man, though he earned his win over Browne with a first-round TKO rather than a decision.
At UFC 207, the two former champs will go at it again. When they do so, Velasquez will look to prove that his earlier loss to Werdum was the result of poor planning and circumstance. Werdum, meanwhile, will look to prove that his defeat of Velasquez was more than a fluke, and that he is indeed the better man of the two.
Considering the scale of this heavyweight showdown, it may come as a surprise that it is the less high-profile of the two bouts most recently confirmed for UFC 207. This, however, is precisely the case, as the other fight announced for the card will be a long-discussed grudge match for the UFC bantamweight title.
This fight, which will likely serve as the evening’s co-main event, will see bantamweight great Dominick Cruz defend the division’s throne against napalm-fisted contender Cody Garbrandt. Though the matchup has not yet been announced by the UFC, it has been confirmed by MMAFighting.com, who cited “multiple sources” in their report.
After an unprecedented stretch on the injury list, which forced the UFC to strip him of the bantamweight title he once guarded so ferociously, Cruz returned in January of this year to reclaim the divisional crown from TJ Dillashaw, who had earned it in his stead. Since then, Cruz has defended the title once, soundly defeating an old rival in Urijah Faber in the co-main event of UFC 199 in early June.
Garbrandt, meanwhile, has been on a tear since, well, his pro career began. The 25-year-old contender, who trains alongside monsters like Urijah Faber, Andre Fili, Teruto Ishihara, and Chad Mendes at Team Alpha Male, has yet to lose a fight in 10 professional appearances. Five of those bouts have occurred in the UFC.
The first three of Garbrandt’s UFC appearances saw him sandwich a decision defeat of Enrique Briones between knockouts of Marcus Brimage and Augusto Mendes. His two most recent bouts, though, have been the ones that earned him a shot at Cruz. The first saw him hand Thomas Almeida, who was 20-0 at the time of their meeting, his first loss with a blistering first-round knockout. His most recent appearance, meanwhile, saw him level Japanese veteran Takeya Mizugaki in just 48 seconds on the undercard of UFC 202 in August.
Over the course of the last several months, Cruz and Garbrandt have added plenty of juice to their upcoming showdown with an entertaining war of words.
Needless to say, UFC 207 already stands out as one of the very best cards of the year. And given that it could still grown by something in the area of five more fights, its bound to get even better.
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