CURRENT RECORD: 124-75-1
It is International Fight Week in Las Vegas which can only mean one thing; a stellar night of fights. The UFC matchmakers have pulled out all the stops for UFC 213 giving us two title fights to feast upon. Topping the bill is a woman’s bantamweight title fight between the champion Amanda Nunes and skilled striker Valentina Shevchenko. In the past year, Nunes has beat Miesha Tate to claim the belt then successfully defended it against the former pound for pound Queen; Ronda Rousey. Schevchenko has steadily been building herself for this title shot by recording consecutive victories of her own. Acting as co-main event, is a blockbuster showdown between the “Solider of God” Yoel Romero and the in-form Robert Whittaker and one of these men will leave the octagon with the gold wrapped around their waist. Elsewhere on the card there are huge matchups a plenty including Anthony “Showtime” Pettis taking on UFC veteran Jim Miller, in the heavyweight division Travis Browne will face off against Oleksiy Oliynyk and the trilogy will play out as Fabricio Werdum takes on Alistair Overeem. Yet another fascinating night of fights so be sure to be tuned in so you don’t miss out.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course, put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
AMANDA NUNES vs. VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO
This will be the second time these two women have squared off, with Amanda Nunes gaining the victory first time around on route to winning the belt. From her last five victories, Valentina Shevchenko is the only one to go to a decision with Nunes. Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes is one of the most terrifying women in the sport right now. The champion is in the form of her life and is continually improving. Her striking abilities are lethal and with her aggressive fighting style she is more than just a handful inside the cage. Valentina Shevchenko joined the UFC with a record of 11-1 and has gone 2-1 within the octagon. Since losing to Nunes she has beaten former champion Holly Holm decisively and submitted Julianna Pena most recently. “Bullet” is vastly experienced having previously competed in boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts. This fight should remain on the feet with Nunes looking to push the pace early. If the champion doesn’t find the finish then I think she will begin to fade, with the more technical boxing of Shevchenko taking control. I think Shevchenko will weather the early storm and be crowned the new champion.
Schevchenko by decision.
YOEL ROMERO vs. ROBERT WHITTAKER
This is a fascinating contest in an already stacked middleweight division. With the champion Michael Bisping expected fight with GSP up in the air, the opportunity to crown an interim champion has been cast. Yoel Romero has been banging the door down for a title shot for some time. The Cuban fighter has steadily worked his way through the division, demolishing the competition along the way. Romero is a huge specimen and his relentless wrestling is difficult to match. Once he pins an opponent to the canvas he starts to work his way towards getting the finish; 11 of his 13 victories have come by some form of TKO/KO. Robert Whittaker has taken the middleweight division by storm since stepping up from welterweight; he is currently undefeated at his new weight class winning all six. The New Zealanders all round game continues to grow and he showed in his last two fights when defeating “Jacare” Souza and Derek Brunson, that he can compete with accomplished wrestlers. Whittaker’s takedown defence has drastically improved but I don’t see him or anyone in the division for that matter, being able to prevent Romero from taking the fight to the mat and getting the finish.
Romero by knockout.
DANIEL OMIELANCZUK vs. CURTIS BLAYDES
This slot was initially slated for Robbie Lawler versus Donald Cerrone; unfortunately injury has robbed us of what would have been an amazing welterweight clash. But this heavyweight contest certainly will not disappoint. Daniel Omielanczuk joined the UFC with a reputation as a submission specialist but thus far has been unable to live up to that billing. From his eight fights with the promotion he has gone 4-4 and is currently on a two fight skid. Curtis Blaydes has a record of 6-1-1; all six of his victories have come via knockout. “Razor” is a proficient wrestler with some solid boxing; He is eight years younger than Omielanczuk and will have an eight inch reach advantage on him. Blaydes is still learning and this will be a decent test for him I am expecting him to come through with yet another knockout win.
Blaydes by knockout.
FABRICIO WERDUM vs. ALISTAIR OVEREEM
This will be the third instalment between the pair, with the scores evenly settled at one a piece. Werdum made Overeem tap when they first met in Pride while Overeem extracted his revenge when winning a decision five years later in Strikeforce. Former champion Fabricio Werdum bounced back from relinquishing his belt to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 by defeating Travis Bowne last time out. Prior to that loss Werdum had won six straight to claim the heavyweight strap. Werdum is extremely well rounded and has a terrifying submission game. Alistair Overeem rebounded from his own loss to Miocic by stopping Mark Hunt with a brutal knee at UFC 209. “The Reem” is a highly experienced competitor having contested in 58 pro MMA fights, building a record of 42-15-1. The Dutch Kickboxing champion is lethal on the feet but also has a severely underrated ground game. Much can be made about their previous meetings but they last faced one another six years ago. In that timeframe I believe it is Werdum who has grown to be the smarter fighter. I’m going with Werdum to get the submission victory.
Werdum by submission.
ANTHONY PETTIS vs. JIM MILLER
At one stage Anthony “Showtime” Pettis was the biggest star in the UFC but since losing his lightweight title his career had drastically plummeted. He has only won once in his last five contests and an attempt at dropping to the featherweight division ended in disaster. He is now back at his natural weight and searching for a victory at lightweight for the first time since 2014. Jim Millar has been around the block yet he is still only 33 years old. The UFC vet had his first MMA bout in 2005 and has compiled a record of 28-9 since. He put together a three fight win streak in late 2016 before Dustin Poirier recently snapped it at UFC 208. If “Showtime” wants to stay relevant and rebuild his brand then he must get the victory here. But this won’t be easy, Jim Millar is as tough as they come and often finds ways to grind out decision victories. But I think Pettis should be able to do just enough to win this on the scorecards.
Pettis by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
Oliynyk to win.
Chad Laprise vs. Brian Camozzi
Laprise to win.
Thiago Santos vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Meerschaert to win.
Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad
Muhammad to win.
Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade
De Andrade to win.
Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware
Stamann to win.
Trevin Giles vs. James Bochnovic
Giles to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 761/1.
The inbetweener bet: A double of Werdum and Romero to win is 4/1.
The conservative bet: Yoel Romero to win at even money is easy money.
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