Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes 5 rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his unique insight on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: Ronda Rousey’s return is obviously the big story of UFC 207, so what do you think we’ll see from her following such a long layoff? Will this be the best Rousey ever, or will her loss to Holly Holm continue to haunt her and leave some doubt in her mind heading into her championship bout against Amanda Nunes? Anik: It’s hard to know what we’ll see from Ronda Rousey given her layoff and the fact that she has kept such a low profile over the past year. That said, I think we are much more likely to get the best Ronda Rousey we have ever seen, as opposed to someone who is hesitant and doubting themselves inside the Octagon. Rousey doesn’t have the belt anymore, but it wasn’t all that long ago that she was one of the most dominant champions in MMA history. Styles make fights, and I believe Rousey likes this Amanda Nunes matchup quite a bit. I think it was even part of the motivation to come back.
You are talking about two fast starters here, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this fight end inside of two rounds. The big question with Ronda is psychological, not physical. There is no doubt in my mind she has been training her ass off and working really hard on both her strengths and shoring up the holes in her game, so as to put forth the best Rousey we have ever seen on Friday night. I think she’ll get back to her strong points and I can’t wait to see how Nunes responds.
2nd Round Q: Do you believe Holm and her striking ability as a former pro boxer was the only real way to beat Rousey? Or does Nunes bring something equally dangerous to the table with her elite BJJ that helped her become the women’s bantamweight champ? Anik: Amanda Nunes brings a ton to the table and has a lot of different ways she can win a fight. Just like Rousey, she is a finisher of the highest order. I think it’ll be interesting to see how she deals with the physicality of Rousey, who is only slightly bigger but seemingly stronger, especially in the clinch. Nunes has the striking advantage in this fight, but I’m not sure she’ll be able to prevent Rousey from closing the distance and ultimately clinching. I think if Nunes can get through the first round, she’ll be really hard to beat. I’m curious to see how Nunes’ takedown defense and armbar defense hold up, if and when tested. And just because I like the fight stylistically for Rousey doesn’t mean I’m sleeping on Nunes. The betting line is close for a reason. Nunes has an undeniable killer instinct, finishing skills in all areas of MMA, and she’s been at this for a long time. She comes from an outstanding camp (American Top Team) and she is mentally tough, which should help her handle the massive spotlight and the emotions on fight night. 3rd Round Q: Dominick Cruz has been nothing short of outstanding in his return to the Octagon, although his split win over T.J. Dillashaw remains somewhat controversial. What do you think Cruz needs to be most concerned with versus Cody Garbrandt? And do you think the unbeaten Garbrandt earned the title shot despite not fighting too many top-level opponents? Anik: You could’ve given this title shot to the former champion Dillashaw and few would have argued, but the undefeated Garbrandt is certainly worthy. He won a main event in spectacular fashion against Thomas Almeida, who was all the rage at the time Cody derailed him, and he hasn’t really even lost a round in the UFC. So Garbrandt absolutely has earned this opportunity. It’s pretty remarkable that he has gotten to this level, despite debuting in the UFC less than two years ago. In Dominick Cruz, he will be facing the sharpest MMA mind I have ever come across and a fighter who is as mentally and physically tough as it gets. For Cruz, he is always mindful of his opponents’ strengths. He may denigrate them publicly, but he gives them all respect in the gym and in the film room and works as hard as any fighter in the game to make sure they can’t solve his puzzle. In Garbrandt’s case, his greatest assets are his boxing, his power, his athleticism and his speed. He really has a lot of tools on the feet and an underrated ground game, in large part because he hasn’t had to lean on it much. That figures to change here. Cruz will be darting in and out and will pursue the takedown. We’ll see how Garbrandt handles that first shot. But I’m sure if you ask Cody, he’ll say Cruz will already be knocked out before he has the chance. It’s a fascinating championship fight but I think for a lot of bettors, they’ve gotta see Cruz get beat before they fade him at the window. 4th Round Q: Speaking of Dillashaw, what do you think of his chances against John Lineker, and do you believe the winner fight Cruz if he beats Garbrandt? Like Cruz, Dillashaw is also a solid betting favorite, but could Lineker be a live dog in this spot if Dillashaw looks past him? Anik: For my money, Dillashaw is still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and will be hard to beat at UFC 207. His loss to Cruz in January could’ve been a win, and he rallied from the razor-thin decision loss with a domination of another top contender, Raphael Assuncao, this summer. Were he to beat or even finish Lineker, he would be near impossible to deny when it comes to a title shot. As for the Brazilian powerhouse Lineker, he has been on an absolute tear. He’s 3-0 in 2016, and two of those wins have come in UFC main events, so he has been preparing for five round fights. That could help him here because Dillashaw sets a crazy pace and keeps on coming. But Lineker remains right there with Garbrandt as two of the biggest power threats in the division and can knock out anyone in this division on his night. Lineker also has a chin that allows him to stay offensive and take a shot in order to land one of his patented hooks. I do see some betting value on Lineker in the +190 range, and it seems as though Vegas-based bettors took the bait early during fight week. Ultimately, I think the winner of this fight will challenge the champion next. And I can assure you Dillashaw is not looking past Lineker, given his track record and what he has accomplished in 2016. 5th Round Q: Besides possibly Lineker, are there any other dogs that are barking on the UFC 207 card, maybe Johny Hendricks or Tarec Saffiedine in the prelims? Anik: It seems as though undefeated newcomer Niko Price is drawing some action. In some books, Brandon Thatch has gone from -240 all the way down to -180, and given Thatch’s recent form, you can understand why. Thatch had so much hype when he came into the UFC, and as yet, just hasn’t lived up to it. Injuries have played a role, but he has been in big situations before and hasn’t been able to finish, (getting) submitted in three straight. He is likely fighting for his job here and thus, I expect a big effort. It also looks as though Ray Borg has gone from a slight underdog to the slight favorite against Louis Smolka, and I believe that to be sharp money. Borg is a monster on the mat. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His opinions posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.