UFC 213 – Can the Bullet pierce The Lioness?

Date: Sunday 9th July. 3am (BST)

Location: Paradise, Nevada. US

Venue: T-Mobile Arena

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

These uber talented ladies met just over a year ago at UFC 196 where Nunes secured a unanimous decision breaking Shevchenko’s five fight winning streak. It was a close and gritty battle where Nunes dominated the opening round controlling Shevchenko on the ground but her impermeable defence kept her in the fight allowing her to settle and inflict her own damage, finishing very strong in the last round. It was too little too late but Shevchenko but will have gained confidence if this fight goes into the championship rounds.

However, there are few fighters in the UFC with more confidence than Nunes right now. After beating Shevchenko, she went on to beat two of the best female fighters in UFC history. Firstly, she mauled Miesha Tate at UFC 200 to earn the belt, stunning her with a flurry of trademark straight rights before cinchingin a rear-naked choke and then went on to obliterate Ronda Rousey with lethal, unanswered strikes.

The Lioness has truly proven her class in a savage division and with a win over Shevchenko already she will be the favourite but in the early stages of the fight at least. Her gas tank is rather untested, only tasting a third round three times in her career and losing two of them. Shevchenko typically gets stronger as the fight goes on and has showcased her remarkably well-rounded skill set since the loss. She went on to out strike one of the best strikers in the division in Holly Holm and submit one of the best grapplers in Juliana Pena.

This promises to be an electrifying fight between two of the most skilled female fighters on the roster. The current champ is aggressive, nasty and possesses the most devastating boxing in the division who is just as comfortable on the mat with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Meanwhile, Shevchenko has a crazy list of the highest accolades in martial arts including; Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing and Judo. With the factor of a rematch for the title, this bout is simply irresistible.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Nunes v Shevchenko

Yoel Romero v Robert Whittaker

This bout has fireworks written all over it and is for the middleweight interim belt due to the inactivity of the current champion; Michael Bisping. Injuries and threats of a superfight with Georges St. Pierre have put Yoel Romero’s title fight on ice and eager to get off the sidelines, the Cuban has accepted a fight with the rising star; Robert Whittaker.

Whittaker is on an absolute tear, winning his last seven fights. He emerged onto the UFC scene after winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ but this was as a welterweight. After winning the tournament he went 2-2 in the UFC and then decided to move up 15 pounds to middleweight. Although small for the division, the lack of weight to cut has energised him to put on stunning performances. He has consistently impressed and his stand up skills have become a potent threat with four KO’s in his seven fight winning streak. The most impressive of which came in his last outing against Ronaldo Souza, where he put on a flawless performance. He was a heavy underdog expected to get overwhelmed by Souza’s strength and grappling but in true Whittaker fashion, he sprawled and scrambled majestically and went on to light Souza up on the feet, putting him away by the second round. It was his blistering speed and power that ultimately overwhelmed Souza.

However, Romero also possesses blistering speed and power.  ‘The Soldier of God’ who looks like he was sculpted by a god is a large middleweight and will have the size and power advantage over Whittaker. A key factor in this fight is that he will also have a considerable grappling advantage. He is a decorated wrestler and former Olympian so don’t be fooled by his grappling stats. Since transitioning to MMA he has discovered his skill as a natural born striker and chooses to utilise this to end his fights as quickly as possible. 11 of his 13 wins have ended in a KO/TKO with legends of the sport falling victim to his scary power.

This fight should have everyone on the edge of their seats as it could end at any time with both fighters seeking an early finish. They are likely to start at a ferocious pace throwing technical bombs. However, the difference could easily turn out to be in the grappling if Romero decides to with a huge wrestling advantage but you just can't count out Whittaker out in the form he is in.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Romero v Whittaker

Daniel Omielańczuk vs Curtis Blaydes

This fight has been promoted to the main card after Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone has unfortunately had to be rescheduled for a second time. Gutting for the fans but this bout should also spark excitement. Although we have no household names, we have two explosive heavyweights.

In a division crying out for some emerging talent, the young Blaydes has a great opportunity to showcase his skills on a big pay-per-view card. His substantial mass and power creates a presence in the cage and leverages his strong wrestling background to manhandle his opponents on the mat and dispose them with nasty ground and pound. He will be hoping to do the same to Omielańczuk and notch up his seventh KO and win.

Desperate to get back to winning ways, the ‘Polish Bear’ will be a huge test for Blaydes who cannot take him lightly. He is vastly experienced and well rounded but importantly he is well versed on the ground and will pose a submission threat to Blaydes when he inevitably takes him down. This will be an intriguing battle between two men at contrasting stages of their career.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

O v B

Fabricio Werdum vs Alistair Overeem

Fight fans are treated to another colossal clash. This time, in the form of a rubber match between two heavyweight legends that have been around before MMA started to grow. They are decorated veterans and heavyweight pioneers at the very pinnacle of their trade.

They have both adapted to keep on top of the evolution of MMA and boast wins over some of the biggest names in the sport. Werdum made his name in the combat world as a world champion in Jiu-Jitsu but is now a complete fighter with dangerous striking, in particular Muay Thai. Similar can be said for Overeem, a champion Kickboxer and winner of a K-1 World Grand Prix who is now a confident grappler with an incredible 19 submission victories.

They now meet for a third time and the first time in the UFC with hopes of getting another shot at the current champion; Stipe Miocic. They first met over 10 years ago in 2006 and it was a pure striker vs grappler match up with grappling coming out on top on the night with Werdum submitting Overeem with a kimura off his back. Fast forward to 2011 where Overeem was able to control the fight, keeping it standing and earn a decision. This fight proved how much they have evolved, Overeem by stifling the grappling and takedowns and Werdum by holding his own in the stand up.  

We know these heavyweights to have evolved even further in their rubber match who now fight more strategically in their elder age and have every reason to be confident wherever the fight could go which makes it incredibly difficult to predict how and when the fight could end.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Werdum v Overeem

Anthony Pettis vs Jim Miller

The main card kicks off with another great fight between two lightweights. Pettis shot to stardom with some electrifying performances and won the belt in 2013. He looked phenomenal, destined to be one of the best lightweights of all time but lost his belt to Rafael Dos Anjos. This really derailed Pettis who went on to lose his next two fights forcing him to try to hand in the featherweight division. This chapter did not go as planned as he struggled to cut down to 145 lbs. This was a very dangerous cut for Pettis who was completely depleted in his two featherweight fights. Although he won one his first fight he made the healthy decision to move back up to lightweight.

However, this will be no easy come back with a tough veteran standing in his way. Miller is very accustomed to winning performance bonuses and if the Pettis of old turns up we can fully expect another ‘fight of the night’. This is a fantastic style match up, fitting for Pettis’ return.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Pettis v Miller