Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business this weekend with the upcoming UFC 213: "Nunes vs. Shevchenko" pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 8, 2017.
UFC 213 features the long-overdue rematch between UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and top contender Valentina Shevchenko, who first went to war — in favor of “Lioness” — at UFC 196 in early 2016.
In the UFC 213 co-main event, top-ranked middleweight contender Yoel Romero will try to capture the promotion’s interim title when he throws hands with surging 185-pound prospect Robert Whittaker, thanks to the absence of Michael Bisping.
All that and so much more.
If you want to check out what’s happening on the UFC 213 “Prelims” portion of tonight’s big shebang, check out what the handsome and dashing Patty Stumberg had to say about it here and here. UFC 213 odds and betting lines can be found here.
Now then, let’s get to work.
135 lbs.: Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (14-4) vs. Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (14-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: There is a very good chance that Amanda Nunes will retire as one of only two women to hold the bantamweight title — and a win over Ronda Rousey. There really is nowhere to go from there but down.
Which works out nicely, because she's going down tonight in “Sin City.”
Nunes was the recipient of favorable matchmaking for her title shot and of course, her first title defense. Miesha Tate was a below-average striker with great wrestling and a ton of heart. Rousey wasn’t much better in terms of striking prowess and like “Cupcake,” had the head movement of a cigar-store Indian.
Not this time.
“Lioness” has the gas tank of my dad’s old Briggs & Stratton push mower. That doesn’t matter a whole lot when you can end fights in the opening frame, but what happens when the fight drags on ... and on ... and on?
Ask Cat Zingano.
Valentina Shevchenko is a top-shelf striker who understands MMA. It’s why she was able to baffle Holly Holm in the stand up. But anyone who takes her lightly on the ground ends up like Julianna Pena, who still can’t bend her arm after last January’s brutal submission loss.
And “Bullet” can fly for all five rounds.
Nunes was able to squeak by with a decision when they first went to war at UFC 196, thanks to an aggressive start. But the Brazilian was sucking wind — badly — by the time the final bell was rung. Add two more rounds to that fight like we will tonight in the main event and it’s curtains.
Final prediction: Shevchenko def. Nunes by submission
185 lbs.: Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero (13-1) vs. Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (18-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: What is there to say about Yoel Romero? He’s the scariest motherfucker on the planet. His stand up is not going to win any awards, especially in terms of accuracy, but it comes with such speed and ferocity it usually lands before his opponent even knows a punch has been thrown.
Not Robert Whittaker.
The best thing “The Reaper” ever did was say goodbye to the welterweight division. That decision led to a seven-fight winning streak, which culminated in a devastating knockout win over Ronaldo Souza back in April.
Romero medaled at the Olympics and is no doubt a talented wrestler, but he’s also been taken down in half of his UFC fights, sometimes on multiple occasions. In addition, Whittaker has outstanding takedown defense (91%) and hasn’t seen the floor in four years.
This fight will play out on the feet.
Whittaker is simply a better boxer. He can handle speed, as we saw against Uriah Hall, but to win he’ll need to control the distance and make Romero fight sloppy. “Soldier of God” was able to get away with it against lesser strikers, but there won’t be any stools to save him tonight.
Final prediction: Whittaker def. Romero by technical knockout
265 lbs.: Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (7-1) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Daniel Omielanczuk is 4-4 in his UFC career and coming off consecutive losses, but somehow remains ranked at No. 15 in the heavyweight division, which should tell you a lot about the land of the big men.
Conversely, Curtis Blaydes scored back-to-back knockout wins prior to his UFC 213 return but remains unranked — and rightly so — but seven knockouts in seven wins reflects the sort of punishing fighter entering this match up.
Omielanczuk is not a bum and has serviceable striking, but I’ve watched him get tossed around by less competent wrestlers and Blaydes is a NJCAA Heavyweight National Champion with outstanding takedowns.
In addition, “Razor” is four inches taller and has a six-inch reach advantage. Unless he does something dumb and lunges in for a quick finish, I would expect him to drag Omielanczuk to the floor and pound him out.
Final prediction: Blaydes def. Omielanczuk by technical knockout
265 lbs.: Alistair “Demolition Man” Overeem (42-15) vs. Fabricio “Vai Cavalo”Werdum (21-6-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: So uh, these two are fighting again because ... reasons. I’m not gonna lie folks, I do not have high hopes for this rubber match. Fabricio Werdum is an intelligent fighter. He speaks multiple languages and mastered the nuances of jiu-jitsu.
That shit ain’t easy.
So why does he act like such a jackass? It’s hard to say, but when he’s not being a goofball inside the cage he’s beating the best heavyweights who ever lived. Seriously, “Vai Cavalo” has submitted Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Cain Velasquez, and even Alistair Overeem.
He also knocked out Mark Hunt.
That will no doubt make Overeem cautious heading into their trilogy, especially the new Overeem who was Jackson’d in response to multiple knockout losses. Gone are the days of the charging bull with hands held low. In his place is the wrestler who strikes from the outside and spends half the round circling and pacing.
Overeem is 5-1 since getting smashed by Ben Rothwell with his only loss coming to reigning champion Stipe Miocic. Similarly, Werdum went 7-1 following his Overeem loss and was also knocked out by Miocic. That kind of thing happens when you run straight at someone with your hands down and your chin up.
What can we expect in this fight?
Two fighters who are afraid to make the first move, or perhaps get too close to commit to anything remotely resembling what we might call “aggression.” Think of their Strikeforce snoozer back in 2011 and plan your beer run around it.
Final prediction: Overeem def. Werdum by split decision
155 lbs.: Jim Miller (28-9) vs. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (19-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Anthony Pettis was the lightweight champion and Jim Miller was ranked in the top 10. Fast forward a couple of years and neither man is to be seen, at least in terms of the top 15.
Pettis is a cautionary tale, reaching the summit on his speed and athleticism, only to struggle when those skills were rendered combat ineffective, in much the same way a power pitcher struggles when batters catch up to his fastball.
“Showtime” is also a sneaky grappler but like his stand up, his jiu-jitsu seems to exist as a separate entity; meaning, his ability to string them together as a complete fighter is an ongoing journey.
That just happens to be Miller’s specialty.
You won’t find anything particularly remarkable about his offense, but Miller is dangerous everywhere. Pettis is not in in peril of being knocked out on his feet, but Miller has the kind of wrestling attack that felled “Showtime” in previous bouts against Clay Guida and Eddie Alvarez, among others.
He also got back to his winning ways after a dreadful run from 2014-16.
There is a reason Pettis moved to featherweight. How much of that was precipitated by a lack of confidence or a failure to evolve is unclear, maybe both, but I have a sneaking suspicion he still thinks it’s still 2013.
Even if it was, the venerable Miller is simply a terrible match up.
Final prediction: Miller def. Pettis by unanimous decision
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 213 fight card TONIGHT (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, 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.
For much more on UFC 213 click here.