Fighters Only: Nunes vs. Rousey – The Aftermath
UFC 207 isn’t just the organization’s last event of 2016, it represents a resetting of the proverbial chess board regardless of the outcome of the main event. Either the queen will be back on top in Ronda Rousey or the guard will change with the new year in the form of Amanda Nunes.
Most believe they already know exactly how this fight will play out, it just depends what side of the fence you're sitting. Either 'The Lioness' will utilize her superior boxing – she has nine KO/TKOs on her record – or challenger 'Rowdy' will attempt to toss the champion to the canvas and look for her signature armbar submission.
Some question Rousey’s mental state after being out of action for over a year, stewing over that knockout defeat to Holly Holm. While there is also concern about the champion Nunes' ability to go a full 25 minutes. Regardless of how things play out tomorrow night, however, FO breaks down the aftermath of either result.
The Lioness roars
If Nunes were to be triumphant, how big of a star would she truly become? When Holm finished Rousey last November there was shock value because megastar Ronda had not only gone undefeated, but she'd transcended the sport to become a global celebrity and female icon.
Holm’s city of Albuquerque, New Mexico held a parade in her honor and she made her rounds on talk-shows, made almost famous over night. But then she lost in her first title defense to the now-retired Miesha Tate.
It seems unlikely the same red carpet will be rolled out for Brazilian Nunes. Most likely, if Nunes beats Rousey in Las Vegas she must deal with the reality that 'Holm did it first.' And how the former champion was damaged goods after she was on the receiving end of the 'head kick heard around the world' last year.
Rousey's reluctance to do any media in the run up to this event has also had an impact on the opportunity of the fight in terms of Nunes' own profile projection. After defeating Tate in style to claim the 135lb UFC belt, this fight against Rousey should have provided her with the platform only afforded to those standing in the opposite corner to Ronda. But by being denied the chance to do the media rounds, Nunes has missed out on lucrative self promotion on the biggest stage possible – likely stunting her future growth.
Should she win however she will do the one thing no other fighter expect Ronda has managed to do: hold onto the women's 135lb belt. Her reign as champion will receive that RRR stamp of approval, but with all her most high profile rivals gone she'll be left to pick up the pieces of a desolate weight class.
Ronda's second coming?
Ronda Rousey's UFC career is on borrowed time, we've known that for a while now. Tomorrow night could well be her final foray in mixed martial arts – win, lose or draw. Yet should she emerge with the belt against Nunes there's one standout fight on the horizon that would truly define her fighting legacy – Rousey-Holm 2.
To be able to avenge that mindset-altering knockout in Melbourne a little over 12 months ago would completely exonerate Rousey's capitulation Down Under. If Conor McGregor has shown the MMA world anything it’s that weight classes don’t mean much, and so even with Holm moving up to 145lb and chasing a new title there, their rematch seems inevitable should Ronda succeed tomorrow night.
If the 29-year-old Rousey – who always stated her desire to retire before reaching 31 – gets the title back then surely a revenge mission against Holm would be huge business for the UFC on pay-per-view. Can Ronda follow Conor in becoming a simultaneous two-weight world champion?
The move looks especially attractive this week too, as one time Rousey rival Cris 'Cyborg' seems to be facing up to the minimum of a one-year suspension after she was popped hot by USADA. By the time that Brazilian starlet returns, it's likely Ronda will be long gone.
As the fighter to bring female fighting to the Octagon, Rousey's place in the UFC Hall of Fame is already assured. Her goals were to prove that women deserved a place at the highest level of MMA and to be truly dominant – and she's done both. But is there a final chapter left in the career of the UFC's first lady?