December 27, 2016

UFC 207: Forget Ronda Rousey, There Are Plenty of Other Storylines To Pay Attention To

By Adam Martin

The UFC announced this week that Ronda Rousey will not do any media interviews in the leadup to this Friday's UFC 207, and immediately there was negative reaction towards that decision, as both media and fans were critical of both Rousey and the UFC for allowing this to happen while punishing fighters like Conor McGregor and Nick Diaz in the past for not fulfilling their media obligations. While it's true that there is a clear double-standard being shown here, my take is, who cares? Rousey, who claims the media turned its back on her following her KO loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193, clearly doesn't want the media's attention, and we shouldn't give it to her. I get it, she's a big star and she delivers website clicks, but at the same time, there are 19 other fighters competing at UFC 207 who would love for their stories to be told.

So instead of focusing on Rousey, who doesn't want to be talked about, let's talk about some of the other fighters at UFC 207 and what is on the line for them this weekend:

Nunes Looks For First Title Defense

At UFC 200, Amanda Nunes thrashed Miesha Tate to take home the UFC women's bantamweight title, and now at UFC 207 she will look to make her first defense of her belt against Rousey. Nunes is 6-1 in the UFC and is currently on a four-fight win streak. A win over Rousey would give her three wins in 2016 (she also beat Valentina Shevchenko earlier this year) and would put her in the conversation for "Fighter of the Year" along with Conor McGregor, Stipe Miocic, and Michael Bisping.

Cruz Looks To Beat Garbrandt In Grudge Match

UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz looks to make it 5-0 in the UFC with another title defense over his rival Cody Garbrandt. Cruz has looked amazing since returning from injury, going 2-0 in 2016 with wins over TJ Dillashaw and Urijah Faber. A win over Garbrandt, who is an undefeated knockout artist on the rise, would push Cruz even further up the pound-for-pound list and move him into the discussion of the sport's all-time greatest fighters.

Dillashaw, Lineker Aim For Title Shot

Former UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw will look to earn another title shot when he takes on the surging John Lineker win what should be a terrific, high-paced fight. Dillashaw lost a razor-thin split decision to Cruz earlier this year to lose his title, but he bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Raphael Assuncao. Lineker has won six straight fights, including four in a row since moving up to 135, with a split decision win over John Dodson his last time out earning him this fight with Dillashaw. Look for the winner of this bout to fight the winner of Cruz-Garbrandt next for the title.

Smolka, Borg Look To Bounce Back With Win

One of 2016's biggest upsets came when Louis Smolka lost to Brandon Moreno, who came in on short notice to shock the world and sub Smolka. Borg also suffered a big loss when he was grounded out by Justin Scoggins, and now both young flyweights will look to bounce back with a win when they fight on the main card of UFC 207, and remind everyone they are still top-10 fighters who just had bad nights.

Hendricks In Must-Win Situation

Former UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks has not had a good 2016, as he's lost two straight fights -- to Stephen Thompson and Kelvin Gastelum -- and looks like a shell of his former self. He's lost four of his last six fights overall and many are questioning if Hendricks will ever be a title contender again. He takes on Neil Magny at UFC 207, and it's an important fight for Magny too, as he is coming off of a surprising KO loss to Lorenz Larkin. Both Hendricks and Magny need a win here to stay ranked in the top 10 at welterweight. It's amazing how fast this sport moves, as it wasn't long ago that both guys were legitimate title contenders.

Kim, Saffiedine Need Win To Avoid Gatekeeper Status

Two underrated welterweights will look to avoid being labelled as gatekeepers when Dong Hyun Kim takes on Tarec Saffiedine. It's kind of a weird matchup, as Saffiedine has lost two of his last three fights and Kim has won his last two fights, but clearly the UFC sees them both in the same spot in the welterweight division. That is, two guys with a lot of talent who seem to be on the decline, but who both have enough potential to make one more run up the welterweight ladder.

Aging Pyle Looks For Another Upset Win

41-year-old Mike Pyle will look to turn back the clock when he takes on Alex Garcia in a welterweight bout. Pyle shocked the world earlier this year with a brutal TKO win over Sean Spencer, but he was brutally knocked out with a flying knee by Alberto Mina in his next fight. At 41, it's hard to see him having many fights left, and with this bout taking place in his native Las Vegas, there's a chance this could be it. With Garcia also badly in need of a win, expect a great fight between two powerful strikers looking to save their UFC careers.

Italy's Vettori Aiming For Big Win Over Carlos Junior

Italian Marvin Vettori looked great in his UFC debut, picking up a big win, and now in his second fight in the Octagon takes on Antonio Carlos Junior in a middleweight bout. Junior is 3-2, 1 NC in the UFC, but overall his career has been disappointing. This is a big fight for both men but particularly for Vettori, as a win over Junior would help fast track him up the stacked middleweight ladder.

Means, Oliveira Continue March Up Welterweight Ladder

Two welterweights on the rise meet as Tim Means takes on Alex Oliveira. Means is 6-2 as a welterweight in the UFC and has won his last two fights by knockout. As for Oliveira, he knocked out Will Brooks in his last fight, but was forced to move up to welterweight because of weight-cutting issues at lightweight. This is an important fight for both men, and the winner would have a good argument to be ranked in the top 15 of the welterweight division.

Thatch Looks To Avoid Being Cut

At one point it looked like Brandon Thatch was going to be a welterweight title contender, but after losing three straight fights he is now in a must-win situation at UFC 207. Thatch takes on newcomer Niko Price, and if he wants to keep his spot on the UFC roster, he will have to win this fight, because a fourth-straight loss would send him to Bellator.

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Ronda Rousey doesn't want or need your attention, so don't give it to her. Instead, give your attention to the 19 other athletes competing at UFC 207, who both want and deserve it. So give them a chance, because more often than not, the fighters who don't get the spotlight shine the brightest.

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