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UFC 213: Pros predict Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2, Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko
The other fighters on the UFC 213 card have some strong opinions about Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS — Anthony Pettis is not a huge fan of women’s MMA. It’s nothing personal; he just doesn’t sit down for too many UFC fights involving the female divisions.

This particular one, though, has piqued the former UFC lightweight champion’s interest. Amanda Nunes will defend her women’s bantamweight belt against Valentina Shevchenko in the main event of UFC 213 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Pettis will be on the same card against Jim Miller. But “Showtime” plans on pulling up a chair for “The Lioness” vs. “The Bullet.”

“Man, it’s a close one,” Pettis said. “I just watched the replay of the first fight. I’d never seen it before and I saw it this time. I think, man, Amanda is just a dangerous girl with her hands. If she can get back in that punching range like she was, it could be an easier fight, but Shevchenko, she is dangerous. I want to watch this fight. Honestly, I’m not trying to talk sh*t, but I don’t watch a lot of women’s fights, but this is one I’m like, sh*t, [Nunes] and Joanna [Jedrzejczyk], they got that striking style that looks good. I think Nunes.”

Curtis Blaydes, who meets Daniel Omielanczuk on Saturday night, is excited for the women’s title fight, too. But he’s going the other way: He likes Shevchenko to take it.

“This one is really good, it could go either way,” Blaydes said. “I don’t have a favorite, I like both of their styles, but I think I like Valentina (to win). She’s very sharp, technical. I like that they’re both aggressive, they’re both aggressive fighters. I hate when guys, they jog away, they turn their backs. These two don’t do that. These girls bang, so I’m looking forward to a good fight on that one.”

Blaydes, a heavyweight prospect, doesn’t have as much trepidation about the UFC 213 co-main event. He’s leaning heavily toward Robert Whittaker to defeat Yoel Romero and win the UFC middleweight title.

“I’m definitely going Whittaker because I like his attitude, man,” Blaydes said. “I’m a big Whittaker fan, and I liked him against Jacare. Jacare is one of my favorite fighters, and when he beat Jacare, I was like, holy crap, this dude is for real. I don’t like how everyone’s lately doing the whole [Cono] McGregor thing, but he doesn’t do that. He’s just business. He respects his opponents. He doesn’t have to talk bad about them, and I don’t do that either. You don’t have to do that. You can still be a dominant athlete and not talk bad about your opponent.

“Look at LeBron, I’ve never heard him say ill towards his opponent in like 12, 13 years. I want to be like that, don’t have to talk smack about you to beat you, and I like that about Whittaker.”

Pettis and Blaydes differ in this fight, too. Pettis and Romero have a relationship and share representation in First Round Management.

“Yoel’s my boy, so I’ve got to say Yoel,” Pettis said. “But I think Whittaker is a surprise to everybody. He’s one of them guys who came from Australia and just came and took over.”

Fabricio Werdum, who meets Alistair Overeem at UFC 213, agrees. But he prefaces it. If the fight is done early, the former heavyweight champion likes Romero. If it goes longer, he’s picking Whittaker.

“This fight is an incredible fight, man,” Werdum said. “I think the first round, maybe Romero knocks down him or submission, maybe he’ll win. But by round four or five, the longer it goes, I think Whittaker takes it. So I’m going Whittaker.”

Werdum is confident in his main event prediction, too. And surprisingly he’s going against his countrywoman.

“I think Valentina, man,” Werdum said. “I saw her, she’s very focused. I think she beats Amanda. I think so, this is my idea, because she’s a very good athlete. I think she’ll win.”

Miller, who faces Pettis, vehemently disagrees. Nunes used to train at his AMA gym in New Jersey and he has seen her spar with lightweight and welterweight men. He has no doubt who’s going to leave T-Mobile Arena with the women’s bantamweight strap.

“A lot of the times, going with a 35-pound women, you’re touching, stuff like that,” Miller said. “That girl goes. It’s real. She’s a different breed.

“That’s a pick. I think she’s on another level. She’s different.”

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