It’s International Fight Week in Las Vegas which can only mean one thing – a stellar night of action. The UFC matchmakers have pulled out all the stops for UFC 213, giving us two title fights to feast upon.
Topping the bill is a woman’s bantamweight title fight between the champion Amanda Nunes and skilled striker Valentina Shevchenko.
Acting as co-main event is a blockbuster showdown between the ‘Solider of God’, Yoel Romero, and the in-form Robert Whittaker.
Elsewhere, there’s a cracking third meeting between Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem to look forward to.
Speaking of trilogies, arguably one of the greatest in tipping history will also take place this weekend.
The scores are evenly settled at one apiece between Ultimate Fight Chat and former UFC star ‘One Punch’ Brad Pickett.
This isn’t about bragging rights anymore, it’s far more serious than that.
We’ll find out once and for all who is the best at calling the action: the Writer or the Fighter.
On with the show…
AMANDA NUNES vs. VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO
This will be the second time these two women have squared off, with Amanda Nunes gaining the victory first time around en route to winning the belt.
From her last five victories, Valentina Shevchenko is the only one to go to a decision with Nunes.
‘The Lioness’ Nunes is one of the most terrifying women in the sport right now. The champion is in the form of her life and is continually improving. Her striking abilities are lethal and with her aggressive fighting style she is more than just a handful inside the cage.
Shevchenko joined the UFC with a record of 11-1 and has gone 2-1 within the octagon.
Since losing to Nunes she has beaten former champion Holly Holm decisively and submitted Julianna Pena most recently. ‘Bullet’ is vastly experienced having previously competed in boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts.
This fight should remain on the feet with Nunes looking to push the pace early. If the champion doesn’t find the finish then we think she will begin to fade, with the more technical boxing style of Shevchenko taking control.
Brad is firmly in his teammate’s corner on this but Ultimate Fight Chat believes Shevchenko will weather the early storm and be crowned the new champion.
Ultimate Fight Chat: Valentina Schevchenko by decision Brad Pickett: Amanda Nunes by knockout
YOEL ROMERO vs. ROBERT WHITTAKER
This is a fascinating contest in an already stacked middleweight division. With the champion Michael Bisping’s expected fight with GSP up in the air, the opportunity to crown an interim champion has been cast.
Yoel Romero has been banging the door down for a title shot for some time. The Cuban fighter has steadily worked his way through the division, demolishing the competition along the way.
Romero is a huge specimen and his relentless wrestling is difficult to match. Once he pins an opponent to the canvas he starts to work his way towards getting the finish. A sizeable 11 of his 13 victories have come by some form of TKO/KO.
Robert Whittaker has taken the middleweight division by storm since stepping up from welterweight.
He is currently undefeated at his new weight class, winning all six. The New Zealander’s all round game continues to grow and he showed in his last two fights when defeating ‘Jacare’ Souza and Derek Brunson, that he can compete with accomplished wrestlers.
Whittaker’s takedown defence has drastically improved but we don’t see him, or anyone else in the division for that matter, being able to prevent Romero from taking the fight to the mat and getting the finish.
Ultimate Fight Chat: Yoel Romero by knockout Brad Pickett: Yoel Romero by decision
DANIEL OMIELANCZUK vs. CURTIS BLAYDES
This slot was initially slated for Robbie Lawler versus Donald Cerrone but unfortunately injury has robbed us of what would have been an amazing welterweight clash.
However, this heavyweight contest is unlikely to disappoint.
Daniel Omielanczuk joined the UFC with a reputation as a submission specialist but thus far has been unable to live up to that billing. From his eight fights with the promotion he has gone 4-4 and is currently on a two fight skid.
Curtis Blaydes has a record of 6-1-1 with all six of his victories coming via knockout. ‘Razor’ is a proficient wrestler with some solid boxing. He is eight years younger than Omielanczuk and will have an eight inch reach advantage over him.
Blaydes is still learning and this will be a decent test for him but we are both expecting him to come through with yet another knockout win.
Ultimate Fight Chat: Curtis Blaydes by knockout Brad Pickett: Curtis Blaydes by knockout
FABRICIO WERDUM vs. ALISTAIR OVEREEM
This will be the third installment between the pair, with the scores evenly settled at one apiece.
Werdum made Overeem tap when they first met in Pride while Overeem extracted his revenge when winning a decision five years later in Strikeforce.
Former champion Fabricio Werdum bounced back from relinquishing his belt to Stipe Miocic at UFC 198 by defeating Travis Bowne last time out.
Prior to that loss, Werdum had won six straight to claim the heavyweight strap. Werdum is extremely well rounded and has a terrifying submission game.
Alistair Overeem rebounded from his own loss to Miocic by stopping Mark Hunt with a brutal knee at UFC 209. ‘The Reem’ is a highly experienced competitor having contested 58 pro MMA fights, building a record of 42-15-1.
The Dutch Kickboxing champion is lethal on the feet but also has a severely underrated ground game.
Much can be made about their previous meetings but they last faced one another six years ago. In that timeframe we believe it is Werdum who has grown to be the smarter fighter.
We’re going with Werdum to get the submission victory. Brad disagrees and thinks Overeem will get the knockout.
Ultimate Fight Chat: Fabricio Werdum by submission Brad Pickett: Alistair Overeem by knockout
ANTHONY PETTIS vs. JIM MILLER
At one stage Anthony Pettis was the biggest star in the UFC but since losing his lightweight title his career had drastically plummeted. He has only won once in his last five contests and an attempt at dropping to the featherweight division ended in disaster.
He is now back at his natural weight and searching for a first victory at lightweight since 2014.
Jim Millar has been around the block yet he is still only 33-years-old. The UFC vet had his first MMA bout in 2005 and has compiled a record of 28-9 since. He put together a three fight win streak in late 2016 before Dustin Poirier recently snapped it at UFC 208.
If ‘Showtime’ wants to stay relevant and rebuild his brand then he must get the victory here. But this won’t be easy.
Jim Millar is as tough as they come and often finds ways to grind out decision victories. But both ourselves and Brad agree that Pettis should be able to do just enough to win this on the scorecards.
Ultimate Fight Chat: Anthony Pettis by decision Brad Pickett: Anthony Pettis by decision
BEST OF THE REST
Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
Oliynyk to win.
Chad Laprise vs. Brian Camozzi
Laprise to win.
Thiago Santos vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Meerschaert to win.
Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad
Muhammad to win.
Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade
De Andrade to win.
Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware
Stamann to win.
Trevin Giles vs. James Bochnovic
Giles to win.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator. Check Ladbrokes.com for more details and latest prices.
Ultimate Fight Chat’s Main Card Picks: Pettis, Werdum, Blaydes, Romero and Shevchenko.
Brad Pickett’s Main Card Picks: Pettis, Overeem, Blaydes, Romero and Nunes.
And click here for the latest UFC 213 odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing