UFC 213 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko
Amanda Nunes has been something of a human wrecking ball in the UFC’s female bantamweight division, but though six of her seven Octagon victories have come inside the first round, the one fighter she couldn’t put away before the final bell was Shevchenko.
That’s a real concern here as this time the fight will be going for five rounds instead of three, and in their last outing it was Shevchenko who was coming on strong in the final round as Nunes began to fade.
Nunes is more dynamic and more dangerous, with finishing options both on the feet and the mat, but Shevchenko knows what’s coming and has the solid all-round skills, durability and dependable cardio to deal with it, so the longer the fight goes, the more it will swing in her favor.
I can see Nunes winning the opening two rounds and Shevchenko seizing the final two, so it may well all come down to the third round to split them on the scorecards, and given the way their last fight went I think it will the Russian who edges that to claim a tight decision victory, likely leading to a trilogy fight at some stage in the future.
Valentina Shevchenko to win by decision.
Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker
Whether it’s for the interim middleweight title or not, this is an exciting fight between two fighters who have been riding terrific winning streaks for quite some time now.
Romero really is something of an anomaly, with his imposing physique being backed up by remarkable athleticism and an ability to burst into life in a split-second with explosive, fight-ending techniques, which means he doesn’t even need to rely on his world class wrestling to make a big impression in the cage.
Whittaker may not looks as fearsome a fighter at first glance, but he is a major threat to anyone in the division with his dangerous offensive output and constant pressure on the feet, together with very good takedown takedown defense.
Romero’s resume is very impressive and that makes it hard to pick against him, because a series of top fighters have been unable to stop him, but the fact that he doesn’t ever seem to have refined gameplans and a methodical approach, instead leaning on his natural athletic gifts to produce moments of magic out of thin air, gives me cause for concern as at some stage that’s just not going to work.
Whittaker is more orthodox and technically sound, but still packs a punch and I think his forward momentum and quality combinations could prove troublesome for Romero and see him coming off worse in the exchanges, with a TKO finish coming in the fourth round.
Robert Whittaker to win by TKO in Rd4.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
Some late amendments to the UFC 213 card mean that this heavyweight fight ends up on the pay-per-view portion of the line-up.
It’s perhaps not as exciting a prospect as some of the other fights that surround it, with neither of these two having set the heavyweight division on fire so far, but still, Blaydes has shown more promise and his wrestling should pose problems for Omielanczuk and lead to a win on points.
Curtis Blaydes to win by decision.
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum
The last fight between these two in Strikeforce was absolutely terrible with Werdum abandoning attempting to fight Overeem on the feet entirely, instead flopping to guard at every opportunity, while Overeem was equally reluctant to follow him there, having been tapped out by the Brazilian several years earlier in PRIDE.
Hopefully we won’t be treated to more of the same on Saturday night, and there’s reasons to be optimistic about that as Werdum’s much more confident in his striking these days, and Overeem’s chin and physical size have both diminished significantly too.
Still, Overeem remains a major knockout threat on the feet and I don’t expect to see him being overly tentative against Werdum in exchanges, since the former champion isn’t known as a one-punch KO artist.
He’ll still need to be wary of the takedown threat, but nevertheless, I think Overeem has a good chance to land something big in this fight that will enable him to put Werdum away.
Alistair Overeem to win by KO in Rd2.
Jim Miller vs. Anthony Pettis
Pettis’ career hasn’t really panned out the way people would have hoped, but he’s still only 30-years-old, so it’s not too late for him to dig his way out of his current slump in form.
If that is to be possible then this is the type of fight he should be winning. Miller is a trustworthy veteran who is capable on the feet and strong on the mat, but these days he’s not at the same level as the likes of Max Holloway, Rafael dos Anjos and Eddie Avarez who Pettis has previously faltered against.
At his best this would be the type of fight where Pettis could light up Miller on the feet, but with his confidence erroded he lacks some of that creative spark nowadays, and he doesn’t respond particularly well to being pressured and threatened with takedowns.
That plays into Miller’s hands as he’s capable of pushing the pace and threatening Pettis on the mat, so unless the former champion is suddenly rejuvenated fighting back at 155lbs, this is another fight he could end up on the losing end of.
Jim Miller to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
Brian Camozzi vs. Chad Laprise
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Thiago Santos
Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad
Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade
Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware
James Bochnovic vs. Trevin Giles