Dec. 30 News Update: Ronda Rousey Returns at UFC 207 Tonight

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**We have added two news shows to The LAW lineup for 2017 with Brian Mann & Nate Milton launching “Keep it 2000”, which will be a bi-weekly show going through WCW Monday Nitro from 2000. The first episode “Slappy New Year” is up on the site at http://fightnetwork.com/law/keep-it-2000-ep-1-slappy-new-year-jan-3-2000/ and available on iTunes. The first episode of British Audio Wrestling with Martin Bushby and Oli Court will be out next week with an overall view of the U.K. landscape and a look ahead to what is forthcoming.

**We also have the year-end edition of whtsNXT with Jason Agnew, Braden Herrington and Bartender Dave together to run down the BEST and the WORST from NXT in 2016 with many different categories to go through and you can download the show at http://fightnetwork.com/law/whtsnxt-best-worst-of-nxt-2016/ and on iTunes.

**The LAW’s annual Best of 2016 show will be coming out Sunday night where Jason Agnew, Dan Lovranski, Braden Herrington and I will make our picks in all the key categories and will also be joined by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The show will be available on the website at 11pm Eastern and airing late that night at 1am Eastern on TSN Radio.

**The WWE wraps up their post-Christmas week events tonight. The Raw crew is in Los Angeles at the Staples Center and the Smackdown crew is in Miami at the American Airlines Arena. They get the weekend off and return for Raw on Monday night in Tampa with the return of Bill Goldberg and a Last Man Standing Match between Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn advertised.

**Dave Meltzer reports at the Wrestling Observer website that Christopher Daniels and Jay Lethal have re-signed with Ring of Honor. The key talent that has yet to be signed to a new deal is ROH champion Kyle O’Reilly. Everyone assumed they were confident he was staying with the company after they put the title on him earlier this month at Final Battle. O’Reilly will be working the Tokyo Dome show this Wednesday and defending the title against Adam Cole.

**The two-hour World of Sport pilot will be airing on ITV in the U.K. on Saturday with Jim Ross and Jim Cornette calling the show. If ITV green lights the show, that will be a major story to follow in 2017 as the WWE and ITV battle for that part of the world and see how aggressive ITV would get in signing talent. This comes two-weeks before the WWE runs their U.K tournament in Blackpool on January 14th and 15th.

**I had a chance to watch the Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay match from OTT last week in Ireland. The match is outstanding with 28:00 of these two doing some of the most revolutionary athletic feats you are going to see in a professional wrestling environment. I ended up going back and watching both the EVOLVE and Korakuen Hall matches between the two right after the OTT match and I’d place the OTT one right around the same as the Korakuen Hall one. The way in which they nail everything they attempt, some outstanding selling (which is the knock they always get and yet if you watch them, there is a grace in the way in which they absorb a move and then plummet to the mat and some of the larger reactions are when they are both exhausted and selling on the ground) and this crowd at OTT was phenomenal and having never watched the promotion prior, is definitely one of the best atmospheres for a wrestling show. The match is up on FloSlam if you have the service on the “Dream before Christmas” show from OTT.

**This week’s episode of NXT was a two-hour episode with matches from the Osaka card earlier this month at the Edion Arena. The match is really worth checking out is the tag with DIY vs. Akira Tozawa & Tajiri. Tozawa is going to be a big addition to the Cruiserweight division and once you have the likes of Tozawa, Gran Metalik and Austin Aries in the mix, it’s a division that could really thrive on its own. They also aired the unedited version of Shinsuke Nakamura regaining the NXT title from Samoa Joe in Osaka and was a better match in unedited form but not at the level of their prior Takeover matches. Next week is another two-hour show with matches from the Melbourne card.

LAW MMA UPDATE

**Tonight is the UFC 207 card and one of the most important fights in recent memory for the UFC because of what a win or a loss from Ronda Rousey could mean for 2017. There are so many questions regarding Rousey and I feel it’s the most intriguing fight of Rousey’s career. She has shown in phenomenal shape and that has offset the cracks everyone has seen from her reaction to the Holly Holm loss, virtual silence in the media and whether the Holm fight was an aberration or a blueprint that Amanda Nunes will incorporate.

In terms of the business for tonight’s fight, there is no doubt that Friday will take a chunk out of the buys to some degree. Rousey has bucked other trends in the past such as 900,000 buys for an international card in Brazil but we have the precedent of what happened in 2011 that Brock Lesnar was put on a Friday night show and did way below a typical Lesnar number. Fight fans are aware of the fight but the bigger question is if the casual audience that has only bought shows for Rousey in the past are aware of this fight tonight. That’s where Rousey’s resistance at doing media could hurt an audience that isn’t in the general everyday cycle of MMA news or aware of when shows are.

Below is the full fight card:

MAIN CARD (10pm Eastern on pay-per-view)
*Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title
*Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt for the bantamweight title
*T.J. Dillashaw vs. John Lineker
*Dong-Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine
*Louis Smolka vs. Ray Borg – Borg missed weight and came in at 129.5 pounds

PRELIMINARY CARD (8pm Eastern on FS 1, TSN 5 in Canada)
*Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny – Hendricks missed weight at 173.5 pounds
*Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia
*Marvin Vettori vs. Antonio Carlos Jr.
*Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price

FIGHT PASS CARD (7:30pm Eastern)
*Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira

**Tonight will mark the final UFC broadcast for Mike Goldberg, who has been with the promotion since December 1997 as the play-by-play voice. Dana White had hinted at this earlier in the month that they were hoping to hire someone as the new voice and confirmed earlier this week to the media that tonight is Goldberg’s final show. It will be interesting if he is given the opportunity to say goodbye on the air and if Joe Rogan makes a point to acknowledge that it’s the final show for his long-time partner.

**Rizin’s New Year’s Eve card takes place late tonight after UFC 207 concludes from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan with the following fights:
*Amir Aliakbari vs. Valentin Moldavsky in the semi-finals of the Openweight Grand Prix
*Baruto Kaito vs. Mirko Cro Cop in the semi-finals of the Openweight Grand Prix
*Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Calico Orizio
*Hayato “Mach” Sakurai vs. Wataru Sakata
*Gabi Garcia vs. Yumiko Hotta
*Kizaemon Saiga vs. Dillin West
*Miyu Yamamoto vs. Andy Nguyen
*Rena Kubota vs. Hanna Gujwan
*Asen Yamamoto vs. Hideo Tokoro
*Kron Gracie vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
*Final of the Openweight Grand Prix

**World Series of Fighting has the ambitious plan of running a New Year’s Eve card Saturday afternoon in New York City at The Theatre (adjacent to Madison Square Garden) and will air on NBC at 4pm Eastern with the following fights:
*Justin Gaethje vs. Luiz Firmino for the lightweight title – this is the final fight on Gaethje’s WSOF contract
*Yushin Okami vs. Paul Bradley
*Jon Fitch vs. Jake Shields for the welterweight title
*Marlon Moraes vs. Josenaldo Silva for the bantamweight title

The preliminary card at 3pm Eastern on NBCSN.com will feature middleweight champion David Branch defending his title against Louis Taylor and a heavyweight fight between Jared Rosholt and Caio Alencar.

The prelims and main card for WSOF will also be airing on Fight Network in Canada.

**The Christmas Eve airing of select fights from UFC 206 earlier in the month was a massive success on FOX. The final average was 4,700,000 watching the Christmas Eve, which included the fight-of-the-year contender between Cub Swanson and Dooho Choi. Dana White commented on it earlier this week and stated that they will likely continue with this tradition on Christmas Eve with fights from the past year. There could be a larger opportunity of airing big pay-per-view fights a month after they happen on FOX, similar to what HBO does with their pay-per-view fights and replaying them the following week. For a year in which the UFC wants as many eyeballs on FOX as possible as they get set for a contract renegotiation in 2018, the idea of putting a Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor fight on FOX on a month delay is an experiment worth trying without any risk of hurting the pay-per-view.

**Below are the final two episodes of UFC Embedded, including the confrontation between Dominick Cruz and his camp with Cody Garbrandt at the weigh-ins on Friday morning:

*****
KEEP IT 2000 – Episode 1: “Slappy New Year”
(Brian Mann & Nate Milton begin their reviews of Monday Nitro from 2000 with the January 3rd 2000 episode to kick off the year)
http://cdn.fightnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/LAW-Keep-it-2000-Episode-1.mp3
*****
whtsNXT – The Best and Worst of 2016
(Jason Agnew, Braden Herrington and Bartender Dave are together to rundown the BEST and the WORST from NXT in 2016)
http://cdn.fightnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/whtsNXT-Best-Worst-of-2016.mp3
*****
REVIEW-A-SMACKDOWN – Dec. 28th
(John Pollock & Wai Ting review Smackdown with the return of John Cena and American Alpha winning the tag titles, Talking Smack with JBL filling in and 205 Live with Neville pinning Rich Swann)
http://cdn.fightnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/REVIEW-A-SMACKDOWN-DEC-28-2016.mp3
*****
REVIEW-A-RAW: “I’ll Be (in Punk’s) Home for Christmas
(John Pollock & Wai Ting review Raw in Chicago, Stephanie’s comment about CM Punk, the Dusty Rhodes Bayley Bear angle, Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens and your feedback)
http://cdn.fightnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/REVIEW-A-RAW-DEC-27-2016.mp3
*****
REVIEW-A-WAI – THE CHRISTMAS SHOW 2016
(John Pollock & Wai Ting welcome many surprise guests, go through the Jingle Contest entries and much more)
http://cdn.fightnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/REVIEW-A-WAI-CHRISTMAS-SHOW-2016.mp3
*****
THE MMA REPORT – “The Rise and Return of Ronda Rousey”
(John Pollock documents the career of Ronda Rousey as she prepares for her fight with Amanda Nunes and coming off the first loss of her career)
http://cdn.fightnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/THE-MMA-REPORT-The-Rise-Return-of-Ronda-Rousey.mp3
*****

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