Ronda Rousey is currently the betting favorite in her UFC 207 showdown against Amanda Nunes, but the odds are a good representation of how much mystery actually surrounds the fight.
For the first time in her six-year mixed martial arts career, Rousey is listed as less than a two-to-one betting favorite to emerge from a fight victorious. And considering the bumpy road that Rousey has walked down since her 2015 loss to Holly Holm, UFC analyst and color commentator Dan Hardy can understand exactly where oddsmakers are coming from.
“The interesting thing is Ronda’s mindset,” Hardy said recently on The MMA Hour. “You’ve got to think, she’s been away for some time, and the last time she stepped onto that canvas, it was a very traumatic experience for her, which has been relived over and over again.
“It was interesting, the early adverts for the fight also showed the knockout, which now they don’t. It raises a lot of questions as to where Ronda is psychologically.”
Rousey, 29, was riding high as one of the biggest mainstream stars the sport had ever seen prior to her fateful meeting with Holm at UFC 193. Her list of accomplishments was remarkable. She had blazed a trail for women to compete in the UFC, won 11 of her 12 professional bouts inside the first round, and dominated her competition at women’s bantamweight so thoroughly that the division was close to being cleaned out when Holm and Rousey landed in Melbourne, Australia last November.
But then Holm head-kicked Rousey into infamy, seizing the UFC title and scoring one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history. And just like that, Rousey disappeared. The champion who so boldly molded herself into an international icon seemingly became a recluse, removing herself almost entirely from the public spotlight overnight.
That hasn’t changed much in the lead-up to her return either, as Rousey has spurned all forms of MMA media and only given sparse appearances on the late-night talk show circuit to hype UFC 207. It’s a curious situation, and one that leaves even the most academic of fight analysts scratching their head when they attempt to break down Rousey’s showdown against Nunes on Dec. 30.
“If she comes in absolutely fierce and tries to bully Amanda Nunes early on, then it may go her way again,” Hardy said. “She may be able to overwhelm Amanda Nunes. But if she comes in timid and allows Amanda to find her rhythm and start letting her hands go, then every time she locks up, Amanda is going to be prepared to defend that takedown. And that’s when Ronda is going to start to struggle.
“It’s imperative that she comes in with confidence, and if she doesn’t, that’s when the tides are going to turn for her. That’s the question. We just don’t know where her confidence is at.”