Heavy hands helm this Saturday evening’s UFC 213 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which features two titles on the line and the potential for top-to-bottom action from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Amanda Nunes defends her women’s Bantamweight title in the main event, while Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero battle for the interim Middleweight title one fight prior.
In addition, Alistair Overeem faces Fabricio Werdum for the third time and Anthony Pettis returns to the Lightweight division to take on Jim Miller.
FOX Sports 1 will host four of the seven UFC 213 “Prelims” undercard matches (check out the Fight Pass portion here), which we’ve helpfully broken down for you below:
265 lbs.: Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oliynik
Travis Browne (18-6-1) looked on the cusp of a title shot at the end of 2013, having knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, and Josh Barnett in brutal fashion. Things swiftly went downhill, however, and he enters the cage on Saturday having lost five of his last seven bouts, three of them by (technical) knockout.
Fourteen of his 18 professional wins have come by knockout, 11 of them in the first round.
Oleksiy Oliynik (51-10-1) — who turned 40 years old less than three weeks ago — returned from almost two years out of the cage last July and lost a decision to Daniel Omielanczuk, ending an 11-fight win streak that dated back to 2012. He rebounded in a big way in January with UFC’s first-ever Ezekiel choke against Viktor Pesta at UFC 103, which earned him his second “Performance of the Night” bonus.
He will give up five inches of height to Browne, though he will have an one-inch reach advantage.
Honestly, Browne looked better than he had in years before eating that big overhand from Derrick Lewis. He was moving and kicking well, and seemed to have finally shaken off all the bad habits Edmond Tarverdyan instilled in him.
And then he got starched anyway. Go figure.
Oliynik, skilled and crafty as he is, presents a much simpler challenge. Browne’s takedown defense is phenomenal and he is quite adept at destroying opponents who get too desperate trying to drag him down. The striking favors him in a huge way in both power and range, making said desperation for the takedown Oliynik’s only avenue of victory. Barring a freak left hand from Oliynik, Browne sprawls-and-brawls to a knockout victory.
Prediction: Browne via first-round knockout
170 lbs.: Chad Laprise vs. Brian Camozzi
Chad Laprise (11-2) followed up his The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Nations” tournament victory with decisions over Yosdenis Cedeno and Bryan Barberena, only to hit a brick wall in the form of Francisco Trinaldo. A close decision loss to Ross Pearson followed, after which he returned to the win column with a savage knockout of Thibault Gouti in Canada.
This fight, which he took on short notice after Alan Jouban fractured his foot, will be his first appearance at Welterweight since his win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier in 2014.
Brian Camozzi (7-3) came back from losses in his third and fourth professional fights to finish five consecutive opponents, winning the RFA Welterweight title and impressing on “Lookin’ for a Fight” in the process. In his Octagon debut, “The Mantis” stepped up on short notice against fellow LFAF alumnus Randy Brown and suffered the first stoppage loss of his career.
He will have four inches of height and seven inches of reach on Laprise.
This fight really comes down to how well Camozzi can use that wild length advantage. He’s got strong kicks and a quality one-two combination, but he’s been tagged repeatedly by smaller fighters in the past. Laprise is an adept counter-puncher and Camozzi’s tendency to advance and retreat in straight lines plays into that nicely.
Camozzi’s size and strength, properly applied, could carry him to his first UFC victory. More likely, however, Laprise plays matador for a clear decision victory.
Prediction: Laprise via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Thiago Santos vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Thiago Santos (14-5) battered his way into Middleweight contention with four straight wins, including a “Knockout of the Year” contender against Steve Bosse and an upset of TUF: “Nations” winner Elias Theodorou. A knockout loss to Gegard Mousasi and subsequent upset submission loss to Eric Spicely slowed his roll, but he reminded fans how dangerous he can be with a wheel kick knockout of Jack Marshman in February.
Nine of his professional wins, including seven of his last eight, have come by knockout.
Gerald Meerschaert (26-8) put a 2014 decision loss to Sam Alvey behind him with five consecutive stoppage wins, ultimately earning the RFA Middleweight title with a 104-second finish of Chase Waldon. He’s kept up his finishing ways in UFC with first-round submissions of Joe Gigliotti and Ryan Janes, the former of which earned him “Performance of the Night.”
He has submitted nineteen opponents and knocked out another five.
If UFC wanted to build Santos back up, Meerschaert was the wrong guy to pit him against. Not only has Meerschaert never been knocked out in 34 professional fights, he has the same sort of wrestling and submission prowess that Spicely used to great effect against “Marreta.” The potential for an out-of-nowhere head kick is there, of course, but it’s hard to picture Meerschaert giving him room or time to throw one.
Durability, veteran savvy and the ground game as a whole are all in Meerschaert’s favor. The RFA champ picks up his fifth consecutive first-round submission.
Prediction: Meerschaert via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2)
After soundly out-striking Thiago Alves for a round, Jordan Mein (29-11) fell to a brutal body kick and subsequently retired from the sport he’d spent nearly 10 years in. Almost two years later, he decided to un-retire and take on Nordic bruiser Emil Meek at UFC 206, where he turned in an uncharacteristically tepid performance en route to a decision loss.
He owns 16 professional wins by form of knockout.
Belal Muhammad (11-2) joined UFC with the Titan FC Welterweight belt around his waist and promptly earned Fight of the Night in an epic brawl with Alan Jouban. “Remember The Name” split his next two bouts against Augusto Montano and Vicente Luque before scoring a mild upset of Randy Brown at UFC 208.
Despite having one-third as many fights, Muhammad is actually older than Mein by 15 months.
The Jordan Mein who torched Dan Miller, gave Matt Brown a round of hell, and turned Mike Pyle into a modern art exhibit tears Muhammad to pieces. “Remember the Name” is as tough as they come, but he’s plagued by defensive lapses that sharp strikers can and have ruthlessly exploited.
It’s hard to put that Meek fight out of mind, though. That was legitimately sad.
Still, the way Muhammad gets tagged, I’m just not comfortable picking him against a striker this ruthlessly effective when he’s firing on all cylinders. I’m willing to chalk up Mein’s recent struggles to the layoff and pick him to knockout Muhammad early.
Prediction: Mein via first-round technical knockout
Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone or no (details), this is a damn fine PPV show. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 213 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.