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UFC 213 predictions

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The UFC International Fight Week is closing with a bang. UFC 213 might be overshadowed by UFC 214, but by no means this is a bad card. This event is headlined by an interesting rematch between women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko. Apart from the fun headlining bout, this card also features a middleweight interim title fight between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker, a trilogy fight between top heavyweights Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, and a pivotal fight for former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

What: UFC 213

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.

When: Saturday, July 8. The three-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the five-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.

Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko

Since the end of Ronda Rousey’s reign over the UFC women’s bantamweight division, there hasn’t been a stable ruler in the weight class. But tonight, current title holder Amanda Nunes will have the opportunity to set some continuity in the division and start a dynasty of her own.

Things won’t be easy for the Brazilian, as challenger Valentina Shevchenko recently proved she could have a good degree of success against the champion. Both Nunes and Shevchenko fought a little bit over a year ago back at UFC 196 in March 2016. It was a fight where Nunes was fairly dominant through out the first two rounds, but faded significantly in the third which allowed Shevchenko to take control and best her in the final round. Following the fight, many wondered if Nunes could get a win over Shevchenko in a five-round fight. Well, tonight we should get an answer to that question.

Below is a breakdown of the factors will likely determine who’ll leave the Octagon with the belt:

Pace and conditioning: This one is huge. What I learned from their first bout is that Nunes is definitely the superior fighter, but that’s only true while she’s not tired. Being able to have some wind left in the championship rounds is going to be key for Nunes, as Shevchenko is difficult to stop, which opens up a huge possibility of this being a five-round affair. I think there is a good degree of truth behind Nunes’ cardio issues, but I don’t think it’s correlated to her training, I just think some people will naturally have better cardio than others. If Nunes doesn’t pace herself early, she might be in some trouble in the later rounds. This fight could easily come down to how Amanda Nunes decides to spend her energy.

Striking defense and counter punching: What cost Shevchenko the first fight could very well get her a win tonight. Shevchenko has a low striking output, but that’s mainly because she likes to counter punch so she’s often waiting on her opponent’s moves. This is not fully ideal when it comes to winning decision since aggressiveness and control often dictate judges scorecards. However, in a five-round battle, being patient and not so aggressive can pay off in rounds three, four and five. I think if Shevchenko is able to use her striking defense to stay out of trouble early just to drag the fight to the later rounds where Nunes is less dangerous, she could have a solid shot in winning a decison or getting a late stoppage.

Prediction: In a three-round fight, I really do believe Nunes will beat Shevchenko most of the time, but can’t really say the same for a five-rounder. Historically, if Nunes can’t stop her opponents early, she ends up getting in trouble. I think Nunes is the most dangerous fighter at 135 pounds, but I think Shevchenko is the best defensive fighter. Extremely tough fight to call, but I don’t think a stoppage for Nunes is the most likely outcome (despite being pretty high), and I don’t like her odds in a decision. I see Nunes starting hot and getting an early lead on Shevchenko, but I think Shevchenko will eventually enter into her groove and comeback to take the decision.

Pick: Shevchenko

Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker

This is a fantastic match-up between two of the very best middleweights on the planet. You could make a solid case that the winner here is truly the best fighter in the UFC’s 185-pound division.

Yoel Romero is in my opinion the best athlete in MMA, and it’s crazy to think that he’s 40 years old. Romero is a crafty Olympic wrestler that can take a fight to the ground at any given time. Early in his career, his wrestling wasn’t translating well into MMA, but today Romero’s phenomenal wrestling has become an important tool in his game. The Cuban fighter also has solid, explosive striking and excellent movement. On the other hand, Whittaker might not possess the physical gifts of Romero, but he has a more efficient game that’s better suited for longer fights. Whittaker’s striking is accurate and powerful, and his takedown defense is one of the very best in MMA.

This is an intriguing bout and there are a few scenarios I can see happening. I think either Romero overwhelms Whittaker early with his power, wrestling and ground-and-pound or Whittaker survives an early scare and comes back to outbox and potentially stop Romero in the later rounds. I’ve been very impressed with Whittaker, but I find Romero to have an incredible ability to face adversity and always figure out a way to win his fights. I see Whittaker having his moments, but I think Romero will eventually find a way implement his skills and pull off a win.

Pick: Romero

Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Curtis Blaydes

Here’s a decent fight pitting a promising heavyweight vs. a battle-tested veteran.

Daniel Omielanczuk has almost 30 professional fights on his record and has been fighting for the UFC for almost four years. Omielanczuk doesn’t really excel at any specific area, but he can kind of do it all. On the other hand, Curtis Blaydes is a bit green and seems he’s just getting started in his career. Blaydes is a solid athlete with great wrestling and top control. On the feet, Blaydes is not the best but he’s improving and can hold his own.

I find Blaydes to be a very underrated prospect in the heavyweight division, and I believe he can win almost anywhere the fight goes with Omielanczuk.

Pick: Blaydes

Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem

Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem will finally settle their score in a trilogy fight.

In their first bout at a Pride FC event back in 2006, Werdum defeated Overeem via submission. Then, in 2011 Overeem avenged his loss by outpointing Wedrdum in Strikeforce. Now, both heavyweights will meet for a third time. This is a fascinating match up because both fighters have radically changed their styles over the years. Werdum, who’s been known for his incredible grappling skills, is now a respected striker. While Overeem, went from being well-rounded to a being a feared striker, and now back to mixing things up.

I find Overeem to have the better fight IQ, and I’m sure he’ll have an adequate strategy in place. However, Werdum is a better grappler and a more confident striker at this point. I think Werdum gets a decision win or a late stoppage.

Pick: Werdum

Anthony Pettis vs. Jim Miller

This is an odd one to call.

Historically, we know Anthony Pettis is the higher caliber fighter having held UFC gold, and we know Jim Miller has had issues getting past top-10 opponents. But the thing here is that Miller has looked good in his most recent performances and Pettis has had poor showings since losing the lightweight title. I see this bout going two ways: either Pettis is able to stuff Miller’s takedowns and light him up with kicks until he goes down, or Miller is able to shut down the Pettis with strong wrestling and pressure.

I definitely think Miller has the tools to get it done, but I’m not sure he can take the same punishment he used to be able to absorb in his younger days.

Pick: Pettis


Travis Browne def. Oleksiy Oliynyk

Chad Laprise def. Brian Camozzi

Thiago Santos def. Gerald Meerschaert

Belal Muhammad def. Jordan Mein

Rob Font def. Douglas Silva de Andrade

Cody Stamann def. Terrion Ware

Trevin Giles def. James Bochnovic

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