She’s back.

After spending one year away from MMA, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey returns to the octagon on December 30th to face current champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes in the main event of UFC 207 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC President Dana White made the ‘major announcment’ at The Herd on Wednesday:

Major Announcement

White’s ‘major announcement’ really didn’t come as a surprise. The signs were leading to it.

Last month, White told Brazilian sports outlet O Globo that a Rousey-Nunes bout was possible before the end of the year. White also said earlier this month that Rousey’s comeback fight would be the biggest PPV the UFC has done. If that wasn’t at UFC 205, where else would that be but at the company’s year end show.

In September, Rousey’s coach Edmond Tarverdyan told reporters that a Rousey vs. Nunes bout was being discussed and that the main issue was Ronda working her way back into form after a minor knee injury in the summer. Apparently, Rousey is better now.

A Better Rousey

After a dominant run as the UFC’s inaugural women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey suffered a shocking knockout defeat to Holly Holm at UFC 193 last November. Prior to that defeat, Rousey won her first twelve bouts, all by stoppage including 9 by armbar stoppage.

She became a star, both inside and outside the octagon but things came falling down when she was knocked out cold by Holm. The seemingly invincible woman broke down and shunned the limelight. The longer she stayed outside the Octagon, the more people thought she would never fight again. But after a year off, Rousey is back and presumably better not just as a fighter, but also as a person.

The Lioness

Ronda’s opponent couldn’t have been tougher. With Rousey wanting to get her old belt back, she will have to fight the current champion, Amanda Nunes.

The Lioness won the title with a dominant first round KO of Rousey nemesis Miesha Tate at UFC 200. Nunes has a 13-4 MMA record but is an impressive 6-1 in the UFC. Five of those win were by stoppage and Nunes has beaten Shayna Baszler, Sara McMann, Valentina Schevhenko and Tate in succession. She is considered one of the best strikers in the sport and one with genuine KO power.

It can be recalled that Rousey lost to Holm, a former boxing world champion, because the latter had the better striking game. It will be extremely interesting to see how Rousey will deal with an equally versatile striker like Nunes.

Opening as Favorite

Despite her long absence, Ronda Rousey opened as a -200 favorite against Nunes’ +160. Oddsmakers point to Rousey’s popularity as the main reason for these numbers. Nunes has the better striking but the real question is whether she can keep the fight standing up.

Rousey’s power throws and judo are superb and once Rowdy takes the fight to the ground, we know what’s going to happen next. No opponent has ever matched Ronda’s skill on the ground, as she submitted one challenger after another before a much improved striking game saw her self-destruct against Holly Holm.

If Ronda keeps the striking exchanges at a minimal and focuses on grappling and wrestling, she is seen as having the advantage over Nunes. Nunes, meanwhile, must avoid getting her arm exposed on the ground because that’s almost a bait for Rousey.

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