2016 goes out with a lioness’ roar. Ronda Rousey, the #UFC’s mainstream megastar; the woman who brought soccer moms and teen girls to cage fighting, was knocked-out in jaw-dropping fashion by Amanda Nunes in 0:48 of round number one.

Dominick Cruz, ‘The Dominator’ was on the receiving end of an exhibition performance from Cody Garbrandt. Cruz, renowned for his innovative footwork and unique movement was two-steps behind Garbrandt for the majority of their twenty-five-minute bantamweight championship fight.

TJ Dillashaw cemented his position as the number one contender to Garbrandt’s 135lbs title with a commanding decision - victory over second-ranked bantamweight John Lineker.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Dillashaw strung together explosive neo-kickboxing combinations mixed in perfectly with takedowns to subdue the Brazilian for 15 minutes.

Ultimately, UFC 207 probably won’t be remembered for Cody Garbrandt’s star-making performance in the co-main event, nor Ray Borg’s dominating win over Louis Smolka in the main-card opener, and not the controversial judge’s decision - victory for Neil Magny in his bout with Johnny Hendricks; it will be remembered for those punishing 48 seconds that reverberated across the world live on pay-per-view.

In the weeks preceding UFC 207, the narrative revolved around the UFC’s handling of the event’s promotion and Ronda #Rousey’s media obligations. Rousey, the most transcendent star in the history of mixed martial arts featured in one or two five minute promotional clips for the fight; leaving co-headliners Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt to slug through the pre-fight media scrums, radio spots and television interviews in order to increase the PPV buy rate.

Advertisements

The MMA media was understandably irked by Ronda’s absence; how can they be expected to promote their burgeoning sport, airing in an unusual time-spot, without its main attraction?

Everyone knows who Amanda Nunes is now

Time will tell whether or not UFC 207 suffered from Rousey’s absence in front of the cameras, but there’s no question Amanda Nunes benefitted more than anyone. Dana White, President of the UFC had this to say during his appearance on the Fox Sports 1 post-fight show about the women’s bantamweight champion:

‘I could have spent $100 million on advertising, and nobody would still know who Amanda Nunes was, right? So after tonight, everyone knows who Amanda Nunes is now.’ And he’s absolutely right.

Amanda Nunes steamrolled through Ronda Rousey and brought the rest of the women’s 135lbs division with her. As Nunes continued to lay into Rousey without fear of reprisal, it became poignantly clear that women’s MMA has surpassed its biggest star.

Such is the cruelty and beauty of combat sport

Amanda will go on to defend her championship against contenders who are capable grapplers and proficient strikers; not just one or the other like the women of previous years.

Advertisements

This new crop of female competitors is a direct response to Rousey’s dominant run since 2011; women like Valentina Shevchenko, Rose Namajunas, Holly Holm and even Nunes herself watched Ronda blowout the bantamweight division with her grappling-centric style and studied how to manipulate that, overcome it and equip themselves with the appropriate tools to defeat it.

When Ronda Rousey hit the canvas in Melbourne last year, we laughed at the woman who dared to think she could rule the world of cage fighting. Twelve months later, as the lioness spits out her bones, we should point to every woman who ever has, or will step into the octagon; and thank her. #UFC207