Amanda Nunes set out to show the world that Ronda Rousey had no business being in the cage with her. Mission accomplished.
Nunes annihilated Rousey in less than a minute, as she retained the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title with a scintillating first-round technical knockout in the UFC 207 main event on Friday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Rousey succumbed to punches 48 seconds into Round 1. She might as well have squared off with an 18-wheeler.
Rousey advanced at the start and engaged the American Top Team standout in the center of the cage. She was met with a ferocious onslaught of accurate, power punches. Rousey tried and failed to clinch with the champion, only to be denied and fed further punishment. Nunes threw 47 strikes by FightMetric count and landed 27 of them before referee Herb Dean had seen enough. He gave Rousey every chance to recover, but the tide was not to be turned.
In the aftermath of UFC 207 “Nunes vs. Rousey,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko-Julianna Pena winner: Nunes could not have been more dominant. The Brazilian showed no regard for Rousey’s standup skills, as she lured her into punching range, cut loose and damaged the Olympic bronze medalist beyond repair. The rout places Nunes firmly in the “Fighter of the Year” discussion, alongside Conor McGregor, Michael Bisping and Stipe Miocic. She has rattled off five consecutive victories, four of them first-round finishes, and effectively distanced herself from a September 2014 defeat to Cat Zingano. Shevchenko and Pena on Jan. 28 will headline UFC on Fox 23 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw: A new king sits on the UFC bantamweight throne. Garbrandt backed up his pre-fight trash talk with a superb performance in the co-main event, as the Team Alpha Male ace struck gold at 135 pounds with a unanimous verdict over Dominick Cruz. The 25-year-old Uhrichsville, Ohio, native, cut Cruz on his left eyebrow, knocked him down twice in the fourth round and executed the only takedown of the fight. The career-defining victory improved Garbrandt to 11-0 and likely sets up a showdown with a former teammate. Dillashaw took care of business on his end, as he claimed a one-sided decision from John Lineker in their bantamweight showcase and won for the sixth time in seven fights.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Lorenz Larkin: While he was outlanded by a 52-36 margin in the significant strikes department, Kim ran Tarec Saffiedine through repeated clinches and completed three takedowns against the former Strikeforce champion to earn a contentious split decision. The South Korean judoka has quietly pieced together a three-fight winning streak and has thus far proven immune to anyone outside of the welterweight elite: Kim’s three UFC losses have come to Tyron Woodley, Carlos Condit and Demian Maia. Larkin has won four of his five bouts since downshifting to 170 pounds, a split decision loss to Albert Tumenov the only blemish.
Ray Borg vs. John Moraga-Sergio Pettis winner: Borg rebounded from a disappointing defeat to Justin Scoggins in February to outclass Louis Smolka across three rounds. Though a failed weight cut killed some of the buzz surrounding his performance, Borg was undeniably impressive. The Jackson-Wink MMA export outscrambled Smolka throughout their 15-minute encounter, delivered multiple takedowns and passed the Hawaiian’s guard with ease, spending much of his time in advantageous positions. Borg, 23, advanced to full mount on two occasions and opened cuts on Smolka with his ground-and-pound. Moraga and Pettis will square off at UFC Fight Night 103 on Jan. 15 in Phoenix.
Neil Magny vs. Donald Cerrone-Jorge Masvidal winner: Magny yielded six takedowns to Johny Hendricks but connected with nearly three times as many significant strikes as the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler. It was enough to earn the Elevation Fight Team rep a unanimous decision on the undercard. Magny capitalized on chances to score off his back, especially at the end of the first and third rounds. There, he attacked Hendricks with triangle chokes and chipped away at him with elbow strikes. Magny now owns a stellar 12-4 record in the UFC. Cerrone and Masvidal are scheduled to lock horns at UFC on Fox 23 on Jan. 28.