UFC 213 Preview and Picks to Win
When: Saturday, July 8, 2017
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
by Scott, MMA Handicapper, Predictem.com
UFC 213 features a bout for the Womens Bantamweight Championship, in addition to an interim middleweight tilt in the co-main event. In the top bout of the evening, UFC Womens 135-pound champ Amanda Nunes takes on accomplished top contender Valentina Shevchenko in a rematch. The first fight was a close one that Nunes won by decision. The champ has been on a roll of late, but can she get over this difficult obstacle? Also, in 185-pound action, feared top contender Yoel Romero, unbeaten in the UFC, takes on streaking Robert Whittaker. Fans should anticipate a great card, topped by what appears to be a pair of cant-miss fights at the top.
Amanda Nunes, 14-4 (10 KOs, 3 Submissions), (-115 odds) vs. Valentina Shevchenko, 14-2 (4 KOs, 6 Submissions), (+105)
In a rematch, UFC Womens Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes takes on Valentina Shevchenko in the second defense of her belt. In early-2016, Nunes narrowly defeated Shevchenko, before embarking on a rampage that saw her stop Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey in the first round in consecutive fights. It might make some forget how well-contested their first fight was. And Shevchenko has since done her part, beating Holly Holm and Juliana Pena to solidify her title-challenger status.
As is her wont, Nunes started very fast in their first fight and had Shevchenko hanging on some. Shevchenko was able to make a late-surge, using her diverse skills and sterling resilience to give Nunes her toughest fight as of late. Shevchenko showed off her skillshoned over the course of a long kickboxing career where she racked up a 58-2-1 mark. And with 6 submissions in her career and having executed some nice ground-and-pound in their first fight, Shevchenko again is a multi-faceted, steely, and capable fighter even at this level.
Shevchenko has a certain innateness not always seen in the ranks of the still-young sport of womens MMA. Her experience and poise make her one of the more-natural fighters in this division. Her strikes are thrown with a lot of technical know-how, in addition to a lot of speed and suddenness. On defense, she is also blessed with fast reflexes. In the event that shots do land, she has guts and recuperative ability. We see what Nunes has done recently, with her win over Shevchenko being the only time she ever had to go the distance to earn a win.
Its just that the paths to victory are fewer for Shevchenko. While her main route to a win is a big one, its narrow in options. She needs to get this fight into the later rounds, utilizing a highly-technical approach. Nunes was fading considerably at the end of their three-rounder. Shevchenko was even able to get the better in spots of Nunes on the floor, with the champion being an expert BBJ practitioner. Shevchenko is a less-explosive athlete, but one who is more built-to-last.
Going against Nunes at this particular point takes a lot of gumption. Her recent form is sizzling. When she is throwing punches and other strikes freely, she just might be the most potent offensive force ever seen in a cage from a woman fighter. And again, she can get it done a variety of ways and against the best in the business. She has submitted top competition and stopped them on strikes.
Nunes is a peaking force in the UFC. The fighter who once lost to Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano is replaced by a fierce champion who was dominant when allowed to tangle with the cream of the crop. And she might need that extra gear that she has found in the past year-plus for the purposes of this fight. In the first fight, it would have been hard to imagine Nunes winning a five-rounder, though she was only prepared for a 3-rounder, which may have painted a faulty picture. Still, shes not a fighter who gets better as the rounds pass. Against a fighter who was able to withstand her offense, thats something to consider.
Shevchenko hasnt scored a KO since coming to the UFC and youd like to see more power from a Nunes challenger. After all, you need something to repel the inevitable early Nunes onslaught. Then again, Shevchenko got through it before and appeared to be surging late. Take that two rounds further and I see Shevchenko getting her hand raised at the end. Im taking the challenger.
My Pick to Win: Im betting on Valentina Shevchenko at +105. Nunes is dangerous and might be better than she was in their first fight. Shevchenko, however, has shown she can take it and should benefit from the championship distance. Bet your Nunes/Shevchenko pick from the comfort of your own home using your credit card and get a giant 50% bonus on your first deposit at Bovada Sportsbook!
Yoel Romero, 13-1 (11 KOs), (-160) vs. Robert Whittaker, 18-4 (9 KOs, 5 Submissions), (+130)
In a battle for the interim UFC middleweight title, Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker duke it out in the co-main event of UFC 213. This has the looks of a thriller, with the explosive and freakishly-built Romero against the rising Whittaker, who has been a juggernaut since rising to 185 pounds. Its a fascinating fight where a variety of outcomes seem plausible.
At 40, time is getting short for Romero. The guy has the body of a Greek God. But hes not tightly-bound. He can explode at any second with otherworldly athleticism. This man was a wrestler who won everything in sight as a Cuban amateur. So he has that going for him. But unlike some maulers who never became gifted strikers, Romeros calling card since getting to the UFC has been turning peoples lights out.
Yet to be topped in the UFC, one will probably look back years from now and wonder what took Romero so long to get a title shot. A dirty PED test wasnt helpful to his cause and neither were a few in-octagon incidents where Romero more or less cheated, cagey or not. He beat top contenders like Lyoto Machida, Chris Weidman, and Jacare Souza. Based on credentials alone, he belongs. Can he get over this last hump?
I think Whittakers rise at middleweight caught some by surprise. But no longer needing to cut weight, he seems stronger and more energetic. He beat Jacare easier than Romero did. In fact, the ease in which he stopped Jacare in his last fight was shocking. Since rising in weight, he has also topped Uriah Hall and Derek Brunson, overcoming some tough moments to show his resilience.
If using the simplistic street method of sizing each fighter up with the naked eye, most would be inclined to pick the far more-menacing Romero. He has the credentials and is right on the precipice of big things at an advanced age. He surely is feeling the urgency of this. However, Whittaker is 14 years younger and more often than not, youth is served in this business. And while Romero is an uber-athlete who fights, Whittaker seems like more of a capable fightermore apt on an instinctive level.
I dont think a pick on either side can be made with too much certainty. Neither guy is easy to bet against at this point. I think Whittakers youth, instincts, and quickness stand out as the key elements in this fight. I see him braving the tough moments, dragging Romero into deep water, and emerging with a hard-earned victory.
My Pick to Win: Im betting on Robert Whittaker at +130. Romero is certainly a formidable test and could easily land something fight-changing. But Whittakers recent form suggests a future champion and this might be his time. Bet your Romero/Whittaker Prediction using your credit card and get a 100% bonus up to $500 at GTBets!