Rousey to fight Nunes in her UFC comeback

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Ronda Rousey.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Ronda Rousey. PHOTO: STARHUB

LOS ANGELES • Ronda Rousey, the UFC's most popular female fighter, will fight for the first time in more than a year on Dec 30 when she faces Amanda Nunes in a bantamweight title fight at UFC 207.

Rousey's return has been anticipated for some time as she recovered from injuries suffered in her upset loss to Holly Holm in UFC 193 and an unrelated knee surgery this summer.

Originally, the UFC had hoped she would return to fight Holm in their signature UFC 200 card in July but that was delayed because of her surgery.

Nunes won the belt that had once been hers by beating Miesha Tate at that event, becoming the organisation's first openly gay champion.

Nunes, 28, had said her first defence of the title had to come against Rousey, who had held it for more than three years.

Getting Rousey, 29, back is huge for the UFC. Next to Conor McGregor, 28, she is their biggest draw.

A former Olympic bronze medallist in judo, she stormed into an MMA career in 2010 with a frenzy, winning her first 12 fights by either knockout or submission - all but one of those victories coming in the first round.

Away from the ring she became a compelling, if occasionally profane, voice for women's rights.

She is easily the UFC's most visible woman, showing up on television commercials and television talk shows in the US even after her loss to Holm.

The defeat seemed to slow what had been a meteoric rise.

She talked after the fight of having injured her teeth in the bout and was unable to chew an apple for several weeks.

As the months dragged on and she did not sign on for another fight, many wondered if she needed more time to get over the loss.

After recovering from the knee surgery she is apparently ready to fight again.

Once it was assumed she would fight Holm again in her first fight, but Holm, 34, lost that chance after she was beaten by Tate, 30, in March.

No other matches have been announced yet for UFC 207, which will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'Rousey to fight Nunes in her UFC comeback'. Print Edition | Subscribe