UFC 213 Main Card Picks & Predictions
The SpitballingPod team have given their picks and predictions ahead of a stacked card this Saturday and it appears that the only consensus pick is Anthony Pettis to get the victory over Jim Miller. Predictions have been submitted throughout fight week and all ahead of the weigh in, so please take that into account if you're reading this on Saturday morning and are slightly confused.
Amanda Nunes v Valentina Shevchenko
Luke: As you may have heard on the podcast, I’ve been a big fan of ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko for a while now and really fancy her to win this fight. Much like the first meeting, I expect Nunes to come out quick and strong but her style simply doesn’t suit a five round fight. With such a high intensity game, ‘The Lioness’ should be relying on getting the challenger out of there early doors and I think Valentina is too smart for that. She demonstrated against Holm that not only is she a technical striker, but a very intelligent one also; Nunes has a clear power advantage but I think Shevchenko hits hard enough that you can’t walk through her shots and I think her accuracy and intelligence will guide her to take the later round (providing she doesn’t get clipped). Nunes has developed an ego since the last fight and Shevchenko has clearly improved her all round game (as demonstrated with the submission win over Pena). I predict Valentina Shevchenko to win via decision
Rory: I personally feel like the bad blood in the lead up to the fight may see Shevchenko come out slightly more aggressive than she normally does. This could play into the hands of Nunes who carries serious power. I feel like in round one she could hit the challenger with some big shots before sealing the deal in round two. Amanda Nunes via 2nd Round TKO/KO
Cam: This fight presents Amanda Nunes with a real opportunity to become a superstar in this sport, it also presents a huge amount of danger and won’t be as easy as her last fight. After finishing Ronda Rousey inside of a minute, Nunes takes on Valentina Shevchenko in a rematch from 16 months ago which saw Nunes take a decision victory. Both women have improved leaps and bounds since their first encounter and now represent the truly elite fighters of the division. The fight will take place on the feet, both women adapt a striking style, Nunes through power and ferocity, Shevchenko through volume. For me, Nunes' confidence is sky high, she’s just coming off a destruction of the greatest female fighter of all time in Rousey and had never looked better. You can argue that you can’t take too much from that fight as Rousey wasn’t mentally ready to come back after the Holy Holm fight, still you have to credit Nunes for taking advantage of the opportunity and being clinical in her finish. Whilst Shevchenko will present problems, especially early in the fight and if it goes to the deep waters in the 4th and 5th round, I expect her to utilise her work rate and possibly snatch a decision, I don’t see it going there. Give me Nunes by second round KO, and in clinical fashion. Her stock will grow and the UFC brass will finally start to push her as a global superstar and face of women’s fighting.
TK: One way or another I see a dramatic conclusion to this one, in which Nunes cements her place as the monster of the women's divisions or appears one dimensional and is fundamentally exposed, (can't think where we've seen that before?). Shevchenko's skills and particularly the Holly Holm performance are a major concern when making this prediction but I'm going with Nunes to put on a display, bully her opponent with her sheer size and power and blast her out of there early. When the choice is that or be dragged into deep waters in which you've never been, any Nunes fans out there should be praying I'm right. 2nd round Nunes KO.
Keegan: The first fight between these two saw the current champ, Amanda Nunes, take the win by decision after 3 rounds. However, come the 3rd round in that fight Nunes looked to have almost nothing left in the tank and if you look at the figures, she has always struggled in fights that go past a round and half. That doesn’t change the fact that if she lands a bomb early, which she’s capable of, then the fight may well be over. However if Shevchenko can make it to the 3rd then I think she may have a great chance of getting a finish in this fight. Shevchenko via 5th Round KO
Troy: Unfortunately can't see Shevchenko testing the strength of Amanda Nunes. I think this one won't last too long, and should be wrapped up within three rounds. Amanda Nunes via KO
Yoel Romero v Robert Whittaker
Luke: For me, this has been the hardest fight to predict; I’ve chopped and changed my opinion to no end – most notably on the pod, where I quite literally did a 180 mid conversation. The reason for my sudden change is that I had foolishly forgotten this was a 5 round fight (the pair will compete for the Interim UFC Middleweight Championship). Romero is one of the dirtiest dogs in the entire organisation, with his widely publicised knack of winning at all costs (like a heel in wrestling), with his habits of staying on the stool too long, or drenching his body in water to gain a few more seconds to compose himself. I think he’ll have more success at taking Whittaker down than Jacare did, and may in fact be two rounds up as we head into the third – from here onwards, I think the 40 year old will start to tire and the younger, fresher, harder hitter will take over. I’m banking on Whittaker getting the job done again with sheer power and unrelenting violence like his last performance. I’m predicting Whittaker to win via a 4th round KO and smoke this old Cuban like a prime Tony Montana.
Rory: This may seem like a strange prediction given Romero’s apparent stamina concerns but I feel like Romero will get takedowns early and impose himself on Whittaker. It should also be remembered that Romero’s last five KO victories have all come in the third round. Clearly, he carries KO power throughout the fight and if he can secure the takedowns early he should be able to keep the gas tank fuller for longer. Yoel Romero via 4th Round TKO/KO
Cam: A constant criticism of the UFC over past few years has been the sheer number of interim title fights banded about, in order to help sell pay per views. Here we are again, with another interim title fight although this time, it’s justified. The middleweight championship hasn’t been defended in almost a year, and the current champion Michael Bisping is out with an injury. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to look at Romero taking this fight to the ground with his excellent wrestling and keeping it there for the majority of the fight. However, Whittaker is an extremely fast striker within the division and one of his strengths is his timing (just ask Jacare). Neither fighter is use to a five round pace, and I feel this favours Whittaker as the younger, fresher fighter. For the benefit of the division, I hope Romero wins, he presents a much more sellable fight against Bisping than Whittaker would. However, this is a division that loves to throw a curve ball our way, and I feel Whittaker will take over in the later rounds leading to a decision
TK: Two men that would feature high enough on the 'Do not want to cross in a dark alley' list that you'd consider running into the main road full of traffic instead, I see a brutal contest regardless of the outcome. Like many I do have concerns over Romero's age and conditioning in a 5 round contest, but in this instance do not feel the fight will go far enough for this to be exposed. While Whittaker impressed me against Jacare I feel the sheer force and aggression of Romero's takedowns and world class wrestling skills set him apart in this one, (where both men clearly also hold 'lights out' power). Expect an emphatic finish within two rounds. 2nd Round stoppage for Romero.
Keegan: This looks to be a great fight that could see either fighters hand raised. Romero is a great wrestler and if Whittaker gets sucked into fighting in small spaces I think that Romero will be able to tire him out before landing the big shots he’s capable of. On the other hand, if Whittaker can keep his distance then he could land some big shots himself. Romero via 3rd Round KO
Troy: I'm tipping Robert Whittaker to finally be the guy to derail the Cuban steam train that is Yoel Romero. I feel he is in the form of his life and just entering his prime. I'm expecting (hoping for) a slugfest. Robert Whittaker via KO
Fabricio Werdum v Alistair Overeem
Luke: Overeem is like a new man these days – the veteran of 57 fights has clearly adapted with age and now fights with far more intelligence than we had seen in previous bouts. I don’t have quite such an extensive breakdown for this one, but I firmly believe that Overeem takes this three rounds and earns only his fifth decision win of his career, and first since 2015 against Roy Nelson. I think ‘The Reem’ will intelligently move on the outside and pick Werdum off with fear of being dragged to the ground with such an accomplished grappler. I’m still angry with Werdum for being knocked out so feebly by Miocic last year and so wouldn’t mind seeing the same happen again, but I’ll go with my heart and predict a unanimous decision victory for Alistair Overeem.
Rory: Over three rounds I can see Overeem fighting a smart fight and picking Werdum off from range. If he drops Werdum he might be reluctant to go to the ground with one of the best grapplers in the UFC. Therefore I can see a tactical performance with a decision victory for ‘the reem’. Alistair Overeem via unanimous decision
Cam: The striker against the submission artist. Overeem V Werdum offers a classic tale of how one fighter will prefer to keep the fight standing, against another who would like to take it to the ground and exploit his Jiu Jitsu. The heavyweight division isn’t the deepest and a win here for either fighter could very well make them the next challenger. They’ve fought each other twice before in Strikeforce with Werdum winning the first bout via submission, whilst Overeem took the second contest via unanimous decision. Whilst Overeem definitely presents a huge danger on the feet, I feel his striking has slightly regressed and he generally looks much slower than he was a few years back. With Werdum, he fought a careless fight against Miocic and got caught, but rebounded with a stunning finish over Travis Browne. I see both fighters starting this out extremely cautiously, knowing what is at stake but both will open up more in the second/third round. Give me Werdum via submission in the third and final round, likely after being dropped by Overeem who will become too excited looking for the finish and leave himself vulnerable to submission. Werdum by Submission, Kimura to be specific
TK: Installed as my automatic favourite for sloppiest fight of the night, I see a potentially messy heavyweight contest in which little clean work is done but Overeem stays disciplined enough to keep it on the feet and win it with his striking. Wouldn't be surprised to see an Overeem decision but with the number of KO's on his record it's hard to argue against him finishing it inside the distance. Overeem via 3rd Round KO
Keegan: The trilogy that started out with a submission win for Werdumcomes to a conclusion at UFC 213. With the score one a piece after the brutal striking display Overeem put on in the two’s second battle won him the bout by unanimous decision, this should be a great fight. Overeem via 2nd Round KO
Troy: Werdum is one of my favourite heavyweights on the UFC roster, so I am looking forward to seeing him fight. I'm not too sure how much Overeem has left in his tank at this stage, and I can see an early takedown from the Brazilian. Werdum will then try to work a submission against the blue belt in 'The Reem'. Werdum via Submission.
Anthony Pettis v Jim Miller
Luke: Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis has long been one of my favourite fighters in the UFC, and when I first began watching the sport I believed him to be nigh on invincible – I then saw him lose to Dos Anjos and the collapse that followed with three losses in his last four fights. After testing the waters unsuccessfully at featherweight, Pettis is back at Lightweight and looking to rise to the top of the stacked division once again. I didn’t like the fact that Pettis called out Miller for this, as I think Miller’s limitations are clear. Miller will put up a good fight here, but not quite enough to get the win, and he’s near tailor made to make Pettis shine. This fight should largely remain standing and I think Pettis will bring back some of his older flashy moves that made him so exciting to watch, en route to securing a unanimous decision victory.
Rory: Jim Miller is a very durable opponent for Pettis and getting a stoppage could be difficult. I therefore see Pettis coming out on top via decision. He will be keen to impress given his poor recent record but I feel like Miller will be able to hang tough and hear the final bell. Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision
Cam: A contest each fighter needs to win, and neither can afford to lose. Following a brief (and unsuccessful) stint at featherweight, Pettis returns to his natural weight class to face the veteran Miller, a fighter that was almost released from the UFC a few years back but has done remarkable work to make another run in the division. The fight should play out standing an offer a real technical contest that may provide an action packed, drama filled affair. It’s a huge fight for Pettis who was once upon a time the king of the lightweight division but has now lost 4 of his last 5 fights. Miller will need to constantly pressure Pettis in this fight to win, a strategy that whilst may win him the first couple of rounds, may also leave him gassed heading into the third. Pettis needs this more, he’s the more explosive striker and has fought at a higher level. Give me Pettis by stoppage, third round.
TK: I tenuously say Pettis' skills get him through this one. Should still have enough flashy moves to catch the eye and win the rounds, though I doubt he can stop Miller. Loser becomes a sellable opponent/victim for someone. Pettis Decision
Keegan: Fresh off the loss to Max Holloway at 145, Anthony Pettis is in need of a win right now. Moving back up to the division he once dominated may be the thing that brings him that win. Jim Miller on the other hand was on a good run until his loss against Poirier and another loss to a top star wouldn’t be overly damaging to him right now. Pettis via Decision
Troy: Great fight to start the card with; Two fighters with tonnes of 'Performance of the Night' bonuses. Expecting a good toe-to-toe battle but think Pettis will win on his return to Lightweight. Pettis via Decision.
Final Scores -
(Scores are tallied with 1 point for a correct fighter pick, an additional point for the correct method and an additional 2 points if you pick the correct round for a knockout)