The main card for UFC 213 is one the best main card PPV’s that the UFC has been able to put on this year. The Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko rematch for the women’s bantamweight strap is a fight that fans have been looking forward to since Shevchenko disposed to Pena back in January and Nunes destroyed Ronda at the end of 2016. There are a lot of different ways this fight could go, which makes it a great headliner because it seems the fans are really split down the middle as to who will win the title.
In addition to that great headliner, UFC 213 also features an interim middleweight championship, which I consider the real championship because Bisping hasn’t fought a real contender since his upset win over Rockhold. Whittaker and Romero will be battling it out for the right to be a massive favourite whenever Bisping actually defends his belt. Outside of title fights we also have two ex-champions battling it out with ex-heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum taking on Alistair Overeem and ex-welterweight champ Robbie Lawler taking on Donald Cerrone.
Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
Nunes and Shevchenko fought in a title eliminator bout just over a year ago with Nunes coming out on top after getting the best of Shevchenko for the first two rounds. However, in that fight, Shevchenko took over in the third round as Nunes tired late in the fight. That win was Nunes only decision win in her career, with her usually being able to overwhelm her opponents on the feet. The losses that she does have all came because of poor cardio with her opponents taking over late. This trend is cause for concern for Nunes in a title fight that will be 5 rounds. She may once again get the better of Shevchenko early in the fight, but if she can’t finish the Russian she could be in for a long night.
Shevchenko was able to take everything Nunes had to offer in their last fight, losing the second round 10-8, but still came out to easily win the third. She has proven herself in 5 round fights, winning a 49-46 decision over Holly Holm, who also has great cardio, and she has never looked like cardio is an issue for her.
I expect Shevchenko to once again survive an early onslaught from Nunes before taking over the fight and get a late finish of her own over a gassed Nunes.
That said, this will not be the last time these two fight.
Play: Shevchenko 2.00
Yoel Romero vs Robert Whittaker
This is an incredibly hard fight to call. Romero is an absolute beast and he has deserved this title shot since his win over Weidman back in November of last year. That said, Romero’s wins don’t look nearly as good as they did in the past. His win over Weidman was impressive at the time, but Weidman has gone on to lose once again after this fight, now to Mousasi and he is simply not as good as people think he is. Two fights ago Romero beat Jacare by a split decision that most people thought Jacare won. Four fights ago Romero was extremely close to being finished by Tim Kennedy in the second round before taking an extra 15 seconds on the stool before coming out an catching Kennedy with a borderline lucky punch to get the TKO. Romero’s 8-0 record in the UFC is no doubt impressive, but there are definitely a few asterisks beside some of these wins.
Whittaker on the other hand has strung together 7 wins of his own and the last two have been especially impressive TKO’s over Derek Brunson and Jacare Souza. Brunson in particular is a similar fighter to Romero in that he’s a wrestler with knockout power, while Jacare is also a guy who likes to get the fight to the mat. Whittaker was able to find distance and keep range against both of these guys while picking them apart on the feet. I don’t see any reason to believe he won’t be able to do the same against Yoel Romero to set up a fight with Bisping in which he will be an overwhelming favourite.
Play: Whittaker 1.86
Fabricio Werdum vs Alistair Overeem
Overeem is 5-1 in his last 6 fights in the octagon with the only loss coming to the heavy hands of Stipe Miocic. Overeem has drastically improved his fight IQ over the past 3 years and he’s taken far less damage in his fights because of it. His chin is suspect, which caused him to change up his aggressive style for a more measured approach and it has paid dividends. I expect Overeem to be able to keep range against Werdum while avoiding the takedown and adding up points on the feet.
These two have fought before back in 2011 with Overeem winning the fight by decision. I would argue that Overeem has improved since this fight, while Werdum has regressed of late.
Werdum did not look great in his win over Travis Browne back in September of last year and to be honest his only big win in the UFC was over Cain Velasquez at altitude in Mexico City. I think Werdum is drastically overrated and he’s not getting any better. Look for Overeem to get the job done and this to be one of the last times we see Werdum in the cage.
Play: Overeem 1.76
Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerrone
Lawler has taken a full year off after he lost his belt to Tyron Woodley, but this time off was definitely warranted after some of those wars he was in as champ. That said, this is going to be a very tough fight for Lawler. He will want to keep the fight standing against Cowboy, but I’m not even convinced he has the edge on the feet. Add in the fact that Cowboy has a very solid takedown and ground game that he can go to if things aren’t going his way on the feet and I see more paths to victory for Cerrone in this fight.
Cerrone has always bounced back after losses in his career and I expect him to bounce right back after that Masvidal loss with a big knockout of Robbie in this fight.
Another x-factor that I’m paying attention to is that Lawler and Cerrone are friends outside of the cage. Cerrone always likes to be cool with his opponents heading into the fight and it seems like that relaxes him rather than actually having beef. For example, look at the Matt Brown fight. Brown was not friendly to Cerrone leading up to the fight and you could tell that bothered Donald. Brown took the fight to Cerrone for the first two rounds, but then accepted a hug from Cerrone to begin the third. You could see this relaxed Cerrone a great deal and he wound up landing a knockout head kick within seconds of this embrace. Masvidal on the other hand was not buddies with Cerrone leading up to the fight and went in there and dominated. If Cerrone is comfortable heading into the fight and is friendly with Lawler I expect him to be free flowing with his strikes and get the job done by KO at some point in the first couple rounds.
Play: Cerrone 2.23