UFC 213 tips: Best bets for Nunes v Shevchenko in Las Vegas
We make our picks for the women's bantamweight title bout, plus the rest of the card's biggest fights.
Amanda Nunes v Valentina Shevchenko
Saturday night’s main event is a rematch of a three-round fight from UFC 196 last March, which Nunes won by unanimous decision.
The current women’s bantamweight champion dominated the first two rounds of that bout and deserved the victory.
She did, however, show signs of fatigue in the final five minutes and would have been glad to hear the final bell.
Since then, Nunes has steamrolled Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey with first-round finishes.
But the Brazilian clearly struggles the later a fight goes on.
Prior to her win over Shevchenko, she had lost her last three fights that had gone beyond the first round.
She will probably need to knock out Shevchenko in this five-round bout, which is unlikely given that the Kyrgyzstani Muay Thai specialist has only been beaten once inside the distance, and that was the result of an illegal kick.
Shevchenko has a 58-2 record as a kickboxer, and if she can withstand Nunes’ opening 10-minute onslaught she should be able to take the title.
Back Shevchenko to win at
Back Shevchenko to win on points at
Yoel Romero v Robert Whittaker
This match-up is so good that it could really headline a card in its own right.
Romero is one of the most feared fighters in any division.
He’s unbeaten in his eight UFC fights, and knocked out Chris Weidman with a flying knee last time he was in the Octagon at UFC 205.
Whittaker, meanwhile, is on a seven-fight unbeaten run of his own, and stopped Jacare Souza – arguably as dangerous a fighter as Romero – when he last fought in April.
The Australian is certainly the superior striker of these two, and has shown the ability to negate Romero’s greatest strength: his takedowns.
The Cuban also tends to run out of gas due to his high-octane style.
Whittaker’s excellent defensive work should keep him out of trouble early on, and as the fight goes on you’d have to fancy him to earn a late stoppage.
Don’t expect this one to go the distance. Just five of these fighters’ last 15 bouts combined have gone to the judges’ scorecards.
Back Whittaker to win at
Back Whittaker to win by KO/TKO/DQ/submission at
Alastair Overeem v Fabricio Werdum
The winner of this heavyweight bout will be on the verge of another crack at undisputed champion Stipe Miocic.
The Croatian is the only fighter to have beaten either Werdum or Overeem since 2014, and they currently occupy the first and third spots in the divisional rankings respectively.
Werdum – who held the belt for 18 months before he was knocked out by Miocic at UFC 198 – is one of the UFC’s most celebrated Jiu-Jitsu fighters, and he submitted Overeem in their first fight in 2006.
Overeem won the rematch by decision five years later, though, and is the more dangerous striker of the pair.
Both of these fighters have suspect chins, and the fight will likely come down to which one lands the first clean strike on his opponent’s jaw.
For that reason, Overeem has the edge. He put Mark Hunt away with brutal knees in his last fight, and has stopped four of his last six opponents with strikes.
Both of these heavyweights are experienced and patient, however, so a first-round stoppage is unlikely.
Back Overeem to win by KO/TKO/DQ at
Back over 1.5 total rounds at
Anthony Pettis v Jim Miller
After a failed drop down to featherweight, Pettis is back in the lightweight division.
The American missed weight for his shot at the interim featherweight belt and was knocked out by Max Holloway anyway.
Now he’s back at 155lbs for the first time since April 2016.
Pettis hasn’t won at this weight since he submitted Gilbert Melendez in 2014, having been beaten on points by Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez and Rafael dos Anjos.
He now faces Miller, who had won three fights in a row before he lost to Dustin Poirier by majority decision in February.
The 33-year-old is a rugged, consistent fighter who has been remarkably active, competing five times since March of last year.
If he maintains pressure and forces Pettis to fight on the back foot, he will beat the 30-year-old, who looks finished as a truly elite UFC fighter.
Back Miller to win at
Back the fight to go the distance at