Nunes x Rousey / Cruz x Garbrandt
Picks, Parlay, and Predictions
Two Friday Night Title Fights
Nunes x Rousey
Cruz x Garbrandt
Dillashaw x Lineker
Saffiedine x Kim
Smolka x Borg
Magny x Hendricks
Garcia x Pyle
Thatch x Price
Means x Oliveira
BANTAM MEANS SMALL CHICKENNunes (+110)
$2.07 to win $35.69
Four Contenders, Three Champs, Two Belts, One Predicted Retirement
Amanda Nunes x Ronda Rousey for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Even though she’s been absent for over a year, judo demigod Ronda Rousey is already throwing her weight around. No promotions, no press conferences, no media appearances, no nothing – those are her demands. Unfortunately, those are also the markings of a “Do Nothing Bitch”. This move is unprecedented in prize fighting and her unwillingness will likely sink the PPV numbers. The worst part? She’s definitely not the champion.
Amanda Nunes, The Lioness, is currently in command of the women’s bantamweight division. Roughly a year ago, Holm KO’d Rousey, then Tate choked out Holm, and then, at UFC 200, Nunes mauled Tate. In under a round. It was a long, twisted road to the top, but she made it. Amanda is easily one of the most well-rounded female fighters in the UFC and has made marked improvement in every fight. Her last loss was in 2014 and even then, it was an incredibly hard-fought bout. She has since improved her cardio, which was her most obvious detriment, and has displayed both devastating Muay Thai and aggressive jiu jitsu in each of her fights. The Lioness uses her distance well, which is a huge asset as one of the taller female fighters, and her footwork and pacing are enviable in this division.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is a bear trap. If you hang around within an arm’s reach of her, she’ll snare your limbs and send you to the floor. From there, you have mere seconds to calculate an escape. Unless you punch her in the face. Rousey is a tough case to judge because before the Holm fight, she showed no glaring sign of weakness. Then, all of a sudden, she gets her ass handed to her for six minutes and falls into a bloody heap on the canvas. Fluke or not, she took a lot of time off and, from what I’ve seen, hasn’t made many changes. Everyone loses in this sport, but I think Rousey’s hubris took more of a beating than she did. Her style is no mystery, which will make it easy for Amanda to gameplan. I see the champ striking from range and refusing to get caught in the clinch. The Rowdy one is definitely in the mix at 135, but this title shot might have come a little too early. Obviously, she has no interest in being anything but the champion but Nunes will be more than she bargained for.
MMA moves fast and I’d hate to think that the division has passed Ronda by, but Amanda Nunes is, obviously, the more experienced fighter. We all loved watching Rousey fight (don’t try to deny it) but I hated to see her quit over a loss. Best of luck, but I’ll be pulling for the Lioness.
Dominick Cruz x Cody Garbrandt for the Bantamweight Championship
San Diego, despite being the eighth largest city in the United States, doesn’t have a whole lot of athletic accolades. The Chargers have never won a Super Bowl and The Padres rarely muster a winning record. What does that leave us with? Dominick Cruz. The most dominant bantamweight fighter in the history of MMA and reigning UFC champion. His style is completely unique and his technique is masterful. To top it all off, he’s also one of the greatest analysts in the sport.
Across the cage from Cruz will be the heavy-handed and heavily-tattooed Cody Garbrandt, who is Team Alpha Male’s last hope to dispatch the champion and settle the long-standing rivalry. Cruz holds victories over their entire camp and Garbrandt doesn’t seem to be taking this last chance lightly. Cody’s style is simple - punch them in the face and punch them hard. He’s primarily a boxer who has the wrestling chops to sprawl and brawl thanks to his teammates. Unfortunately, Cruz trains with a group of killers himself. Killers with very similar styles to Garbrandt (notably Jeremy Stephens), who can easily emulate his movement. Cruz, on the other hand, is one of a kind. His opponents are forced to adapt to his awkward, jumpy rhythm that paces dominant wrestling with a pitter-patter of combinations of the feet. Dominick isn’t a knockout artist like Garbrandt – not even close – but this sport is a lot more than punching people in the head.
Look for Cruz to be Cruz and Garbrandt to try to swing at him endlessly as he dips around every corner of the cage. I’m stepping out of my lane by discussing specific techniques, but I’ll do it anyways. I’ll wager that every time Garbrandt commits to a big strike, Cruz will take him right down. Cody hesitates or tries to feint? Dominick is already moving and popping him on the nose. The frustration should be palatable. I have Cruz taking this by submission or decision and putting on a skillful display against a dangerous up-and-comer. It probably won’t be incredibly exciting unless Cody lands something significant, but, again, it’s good to remind the audience that punching people in the face has its offensive limits.