Ronda Rousey of the US (L) lines up compatriot Holly Holm during the UFC title fight in Melbourne on November 15, 2015. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE NO ADVERTISING USE NO PROMOTIONAL USE NO MERCHANDISING USE. AFP PHOTO/Paul CROCK (Photo credit should read PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

When Ronda Rousey returns to the octagon at the end of December at UFC 207 against Amanda Nunes, she will be fighting for much more than just the women’s bantamweight world title she brutally lost just over a year ago.

As well as the world title she held ever since the introduction of a women’s division in the UFC in February 2013, Rousey will be looking to reclaim her place at not only the top of women’s MMA but also the sport as a whole.

It wasn’t just her championship reign that came to an end when Holly Holm shocked the world by knocking Rousey out, it was also the superhuman aura that the UFC’s first ever female champion conducted her business with. 

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Following a year-long break from the sport, and public life generally – aside from a handful of appearances on chat shows, Rousey’s return to the sport came somewhat out of the blue. Despite the fact the belt had been held by both Holm and Miesha Tate during Rousey’s absence – two fighters the former champion has a rivalry with – it will be Nunes who welcomes one of the UFC’s biggest ever stars back to the sport. The Brazilian ripped the title from Tate’s waist at UFC 200, and will now make her first defence against the division’s long-time queen in the main event at UFC 207 in Las Vegas, with Nunes’ bet365 betting odds of 7/5 highlighting how different the fans view Rousey now.

Nunes’ rise to champion hasn’t been an easy one, but the way she won the title by destroying Tate in the main event at UFC 200 showed she is definitely a worthy champion. The Brazilian, who lost twice during the early stages of her career before entering the UFC, was knocked out by Cat Zingano in 2014, who Rousey went on to stop in just 14 seconds six months later. Nunes bounced back from that loss and went on to win three in a row before earning her shot at the belt, which she took with both hands, stopping the durable Tate in just over three minutes of the first round.

Whether Rousey wanted to return to the sport anyway at this exact moment or whether she viewed Nunes as her best chance at earning her belt back, what is clear is that 2016 is going to go out with a real bang in Las Vegas. Stylistically, this is a tough fight to predict, not least because we don’t know just what version of Ronda Rousey will be walking out to the ring on December 30.

If her huge knockout loss to Holm has left Rousey susceptible to being stopped by strikes, Nunes definitely has the power to make this a nightmare return to the octagon for the former champion. On the flip-side, though, if Rousey comes out the same beast that all but cleared out the division before meeting Holm at UFC 193, the queen could be about to reclaim her place on the throne.