With the initial main event of Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw for the Bantamweight title being scrapped from this card recently as well as the hotly anticipated brawl between two fan favorites in Donald Cerrone and Robbie Lawler, UFC 213 has remained a solid card, despite losing two of it's marquee bouts. With Nunes defending her title against Shevchenko in the main event, a rubber match from their earlier bout which saw Valentina triumph over the Brazilian, the card is then co-main evented by Yoel Romero vs Robert Whittaker for the interim Middleweight title, another rubber match in the Heavyweight division follows as Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem in a potential #1 contender decider, the main card starts with a match between former Lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis and Jim Miller.
Women's Bantamweight Championship: Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs Valentina Shevchenko (14-2)
Following the collapse of the Rousey stronghold on the Bantamweight division, the division had been in a state of transition. With the belt changing hands in the eight months that followed a total of three times. Now however, Nunes is attempting to make her stake as the queenpin of the division. It was a year ago that she annihilated Miesha Tate in one round, whilst then destroying the once face of the division, Ronda Rousey in absolutely brutal fashion. With those being both very tough challenges indeed, Nunes may be facing her biggest foe yet, her former conqueror, Valentina Shevchenko.
Nunes is a pressure fighter who fights in sudden and brutal bursts. She swarms her opponent, giving them no chance to build momentum or even get a strike in. With quick and precise hands with considerable power, she has made mincemeat of her last two opponents. However, her ability to last in fights is where she has often fallen down. She was quoted in 2015 saying she was going to be training and fighting full time, many had presumed she'd develop a long game. Similarly to Conor McGregor who gets doubted for his gas tank, he managed to beat Nate Diaz running on empty in their rematch, Nunes however, completely collapses when she uses up all her energy. When she faced Shevchenko initially, she was a spent force by the third round and as a result she lost that fight.
Shevchenko, on the other hand, is more a slow paced counter puncher. She has skills in the clinch and she can absorb a lot of punishment whilst waiting for an opportunity. She almost plays possum with her opponent. She has already taken what Nunes can throw and she still came out the victor as a result. Whilst Nunes has strong stand up as well as a solid ground game, unless she has addressed her issue of not controlling her energy levels and being efficient, it's hard to see how she wins this one. If Valentina can ride out the early storm, she can catch a tired Nunes and dictate the pace.
Prediction: Shevchenko via TKO round 3
Interim Middleweight Championship: Yoel Romero (13-1) vs Robert Whittaker (18-4)
The chaos at Middleweight continues and now there is an interim title hanging in the division. Yoel Romero vs Robert Whittaker is one of the best bouts this division can produce right now. With Romero being promised a title bout a whole eight months ago against MIA champion, Michael Bisping, an interim title will produce a contender that the Manchester born champion simply cannot ignore.
Yoel Romero is simply one of if not the best pure athlete in UFC. Despite the fact he often wastes space in his striking game, his fight IQ and freakish reactions enable him to pull off impossible and unseen counters. Despite being a fighter who begins to tire by the third, he has had five of his six KO victories in the third round, this shows even at this worst he is dangerous. Romero at his best is able to use his freestyle striking to maximum potential which is backed up by his sublime wrestling ability. Alongside his class ability, he also has a strong desire to win – even if that requires a little controversy whether that be holding onto the fence, taking more time in the corner or dousing himself in water between rounds.
Standing across from him is Robert Whittaker, with world class boxing ability, his creativity, athleticism and defensive ability, Whittaker can outbox pretty much everyone standing in front of him with clean crisp jabs and combinations or he can overwhelm them with a barrage of strikes. He can throw counters and take a lot of angles whilst throwing in the occasional takedown. He is all rounded and skilled in every facet of fighting. His dominant win over Jacare and the five wins in a row before that show he is a serious contender in a stacked division.
This fight will be won by whoever can impose their will in the striking game. With Romero being an unexpected and crafty striker, most opponents are thrown off by the unknown entity of his game, Whittaker however will be able to overcome that. He possesses the factors needed to beat Romero in forcing him to fight long which favors him, clean counters and distance will allow for him to keep Romero to simple strikes and allow for him to punish him with hard counters should he fly in. He also has exceptional takedown defense – 91% successfully avoided takedowns, he's only seen the mat once in his last eight fights. These factors should see him through this fight.
Prediction: Whittaker by TKO in round 3
Heavyweight bout: Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs Alistair Overeem (42-15)
The rubber match has occurred a whole eleven years later. Following their bout in Strikeforce back in 2006, which saw Overeem dominate the Brazilian in the first round before being tapped out in the second. A rematch 2011 saw Overeem managed to drag the fight to a decision victory. Now in the trilogy fight, both these men are at different stages of their careers.
The interesting factor in this bout is that both men are dominant bullying fighters. Overeem likes to swarm his opponents early with vicious striking, though this usually ends up with him falling flat later in the fight. Werdum has worked on his striking game massively over the years to add to his already world class ground game. Despite this, he often abandons his game plan in a fight when it isn't satisfying him. This was seen against Stipe Miocic when he decided to stop striking normally and proceeded to charge at him with his hands down. Fabricio has a tendency to self destruct in the most violent fashion. Whilst he has matured quite considerably in his latter career, he took a lot longer than Overeem did to do so and it has cost him recently.
This is still a tight fight to call, Werdum is more than capable of winning this bout though as is his opponent. He is wary of his counter game as well as his power and striking ability. Add to that the fact that Overeem is lighter and leaner than before which has made him quicker and more agile and it seems he poses even more danger. If Alistair can avoid faltering late in the fight then he is capable of taking the win here. Even with all of his great ability, Werdum often shoots himself in the foot. This will lead to him getting caught by Overeem early.
Prediction: Overeem by KO in round 2
Lightweight bout: Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs Jim Miller (28-9-1)
The decline of Anthony Pettis is one of complete wonder. A truly gifted fighter and once upon a time the kingpin of this very division. Pettis fell off of the ladder as a result of not evolving with the sport. A somewhat one dimensional fighter, world class stand up but lack of ground game has seen him slip way down in the pecking order. A lackluster run at Featherweight which saw him return after losing his title shot on the scale, Pettis is looking to make a triumphant return to the division he once stood atop the mountain. He was the champion with a great skill set and an eye for the spectacular.
Jim Miller is a crafty veteran by this point, a tough loss against Dustin Poirier in February has seen Miller pull out three straight wins since. He is a gritty fighter who is happy to slug it out on the feet or take you down and punish you on the ground.
Despite his once great run, Pettis is going to struggle here. Miller is capable of grinding it out in the clinch and on the ground. Both of those are complete kryptonite to Pettis. He often gives up when his back is against the wall and Miller is coming in on a wave of momentum which will carry him through this bout.
Prediction: Miller by unanimous decision
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