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411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 213: Nunes vs. Shevchenko

July 8, 2017 | Posted by Dan Plunkett

WELCOME:
It’s UFC’s International Fight Week in Las Vegas for UFC 213! In the main event, Amanda Nunes defends the bantamweight crown against Valentina Shevchenko. At middleweight, Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker battle for the interim middleweight championship. In heavyweight action, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem complete their trilogy. Plus, Anthony Pettis fights Jim Miller, Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Curtis Blaydes, and more!

THE STAFF:

  • He’ll lock you in the guillotine, Robert Winfree!

  • He’s 411’s Jack of All Trades, Jeffrey Harris!

  • And your host, Dan Plunkett!

    THE PRELIMINARY CARD:
    First three prelims on UFC Fight Pass, rest on Fox Sports 1.
    Light Heavyweight Bout: Trevin Giles vs. James Bochnovic

    Robert Winfree: Trevin Giles, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Trevin Giles, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Giles, Decision
    The staff picks Trevin Giles, 3-0.

    Featherweight Bout: Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware

    Robert Winfree: Cody Stamann, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Cody Stamann, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Stamann, Decision
    The staff picks Cody Stamann, 3-0.

    Bantamweight Bout: Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade

    Robert Winfree: Rob Font, TKO, Round 2
    Jeffrey Harris: Rob Font, TKO, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Font, TKO, Round 2
    The staff picks Rob Font, 3-0.

    Welterweight Bout: Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad

    Robert Winfree: Belal Muhammad, TKO, Round 1
    Jeffrey Harris: Belal Muhammad, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Mein, Decision
    The staff picks Belal Muhammad, 2-1.

    Middleweight Bout: Thiago Santos vs. Gerald Meerschaert

    Robert Winfree: Gerald Meerschaert, Submission, Round 2
    Jeffrey Harris: Thiago Santos, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Meerschaert, Decision
    The staff picks Gerald Meerschaert, 2-1.

    Welterweight Bout: Chad Laprise vs. Brian Camozzi

    Robert Winfree: Chad Laprise, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris Chad Laprise, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Laprise, Decision
    The staff picks Chad Laprise, Decision

    Heavyweight Bout: Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk

    Robert Winfree: Oleksiy Oliynyk, Submission, Round 1
    Jeffrey Harris: Oleksiy Oliynyk, Submission, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Browne, TKO, Round 2
    The staff picks Travis Browne, 2-1.


    THE MAIN CARD:
    Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Jim Miller

    Robert Winfree: I love this fight, it’s a real shame it didn’t happen when both guys were still at the top of their game. Jim Miller is on the downside of his career, no shame there as he’s been fighting for a long time and has been with the UFC since way back in 2008. Miller’s conditioning isn’t quite what it used to be but he’s developed his overall game, his leg kicks are pretty nasty as well as his clinch work and his grappling is still top notch. Anthony Pettis really fell off recently, he went on a three fight losing streak, dropped to featherweight where he went 1-1 and missed weight once so now he’s back up a lightweight. Pettis is still a dynamic striker but his combination work has really fallen off as of late and his reliance on an active guard rather than working to stand up has cost him a lot, especially against grapplers who wont be caught napping. Pettis is an opportunistic grappler but Miller doesn’t seem the kind to just leave an opening. I like Miller here to ramp up the pressure, something Pettis’ poor ring craft leaves him vulnerable too, and take a decision.

    Winner: Jim Miller, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: It’s so strange that a few years ago it looked like Anthony Pettis was poised to become a top star for the lightweight division and dominate it for a while, especially after he submitted Gilbert Melendez. Then his career sort of floundered. He’s been beset by numerous injuries, then he lost his title in a big upset to Rafael dos Anjos. After that, he went 0-3 at lightweight and then had a failed bid at featherweight, which saw him miss weight in an interim title bout against Max Holloway. At this point, I see this as a very winnable fight for Miller. The blueprint to beat Pettis is one that Jim Miller can work easily. The key to beating Pettis is constant pressure, clinch work, wrestling and takedowns. Miller can work that style. He just has to keep moving forward and push the pace. He shouldn’t give Pettis any space to utilize his dynamic kickboxing or striking. Both guys are arguably past their peak years in terms of performance, but this could still be an exciting lightweight contest. I’m picking Miller.

    Winner: Jim Miller, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: Pettis is the major question mark here. A few years ago, I would have picked him for sure. He was a dynamo, dangerous everywhere, but he has fallen off. Although all of his recent losses have been to top fighters, and one of them was extremely close, there is no denying that he has not been the same fighter he was when he won the lightweight championship. Miller hit a rough patch a couple years ago, but aside from that he is extremely consistent. Pettis is a threat in many different areas, but I think Miller has the ability to get past him in a close, competitive fight.

    Winner: Miller, Decision

    The staff picks Jim Miller, 3-0.


    Heavyweight Bout: Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem

    Robert Winfree: I’ve gone back and forth on this fight, and I think there’s a perfectly valid line of thought to picking either man here. Fabricio Werdum is a really good fighter, his jiu-jitsu is maybe the best in heavyweight history and the improvements he’s made to his clinch game as well as punching into the clinch can’t be over looked. Alistair Overeem is one of the most decorated kick boxers in the UFC, though his style is more single strikes as opposed to combinations when he fears the power his opponent can bring back his way. Werdum should be looking to get this fight to the mat as he’ll not be able to out strike Overeem, though that hardly precludes him hurting him on the feet, but Werdum’s takedowns have never been exceptional and we’re likely to wind up in the clinch here. While Werdum has made incredible strides in that area of his game it’s still basically Overeem’s world once they lock up chest to chest. Again, I can see either man winning but as of this writing I’m favoring Overeem.

    Winner: Alistair Overeem, TKO, Round 2

    Jeffrey Harris: This is a bit of a tough call here. This is basically a trilogy fight between these two heavyweights. The winner could easily be in the conversation to get a title rematch against Stipe Miocic, despite both being finished by Miocic in the first round. Such is the thinness of the heavyweight division. Both men are several years older than when they last fought, which was a boring fight and a bad performance by both guys. Since that fight, Werdum has improved his overall striking and standup game a great deal. Overeem has improved as well, but he’s also had his own fair share of hit and miss performances. Let’s not forget, he did go on a pretty bad 1-3 stretch where he was knocked out by the likes of Bigfoot Silva, Travis Browne, and Ben Rothwell. It’s a tough call here. Overeem has good kickboxing, but he tends to avoid using jabs and straight punches. I recall when he actually did throw some straight punches for once, he knocked down and almost stopped Miocic. I could see this going either way, but I’m leaning toward Overeem for this fight.

    Winner: Alistair Overeem, TKO, Round 1

    Dan Plunkett: Werdum vs. Overeem 2 was a horrendous fight, so naturally we get to see a third fight. Overeem was eating the good horsemeat when they last met back in 2011, which may have been why Werdum was overly cautious throughout the bout. In the very brief moments when Werdum would engage on the feet in that rematch, he was successful and backed Overeem up, but his timidity cost him the fight. Since that fight, Werdum has become much more confident standing (which cost him against Stipe Miocic), and Overeem’s aura has lessened, so while we may see a similar dynamic at play here, it shouldn’t be as extreme as in the rematch. I can see essentially any result here other than an Overeem submission victory, but I lean toward Werdum in an underwhelming decision.

    Winner: Werdum, Decision

    The staff picks Alistair Overeem, 2-1.


    Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Curtis Blaydes

    Robert Winfree: It’s a real shame we lost Donald Cerrone vs. Robbie Lawler, especially as it’s replaced by this. Daniel Omielanczuk is a solid all around heavyweight who’s best asset is his conditioning, which isn’t great but since this is heavyweight and he can fight a reasonable pace for three rounds it’s an asset. Curtis Blaydes is bigger, hits harder, and is generally a bit more dynamic. The real question here revolves around Omielanczuk getting through the first round while pushing a decent pace and tiring Blaydes out. I can see that happening, but I’m hoping for a quicker result given that this is heavyweight.

    Winner: Curtis Blaydes, TKO, Round 1

    Jeffrey Harris: This is sort of a strange fight to have on the main card as its two ham and eggers of the heavyweight division of all things. Even with the Cerrone vs. Lawler fight being off, they probably could’ve found something better to take its place. I’m expecting a sloppy and slow heavyweight fight, and I think Daniel Omielanczuk gets the decision.

    Winner: Daniel Omielanczuk, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: I would pick Omielanczuk by decision here were it not for the fact that I think Curtis Blaydes has a really cool name. Therefore…

    Winner: Curtis Blaydes, TKO, Round 2

    The staff picks Curtis Blaydes, 2-1.


    UFC Interim Middleweight Championship Bout: Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker

    Robert Winfree: I really love this fight. These two are opposites in many ways, Romero is over a decade older and a freak athlete with exceptional wrestling while Whittaker is younger, more technically sound, and a striker first and foremost. There are so many lovely points of conflict here, we’ve yet to see Whittaker really face a wrestler at middleweight who actually wrestled him while Romero has been caught by strikers much less technically sound than Whittaker. Conditioning could play a factor here, while a lot of the talk about Romero’s cardio is over blown it could still play. Romero is just fine if you let him fight at his pace, guys like Derek Brunson and Chris Weidman found out the hard way about just how much energy and explosiveness Romero carries late in a fight, but if you really push him to keep working he’ll tire like in the Tim Kennedy fight. I can see either man winning here, Romero is a freak athlete with a really great grasp of breaking rhythm and forcing his opponent into uncomfortable positions while Whittaker is a powerful striker with good hips and an exceptional ability to both find and create openings for his offense to land from. I’m leaning towards Whittaker here but as long as these two get in the cage and fight I’m a happy man.

    Winner: Robert Whittaker, TKO, Round 3

    Jeffrey Harris:Interim title fight or not, this is an outstanding middleweight contest between two of the best middleweights in the world. Robert Whittaker might have an unassuming personality, but the man has fought and done everything required of him to get to this level. Heck, at one point he was even matched up against current champion Michael Bisping, but that fight fell through. Honestly, even at the time, I was leaning toward Whittaker in that match-up. The unbeaten in the UFC Yoel Romero is obviously the favorite here. He’s the Olympic silver medalist and the favorite to fight Bisping for the title before this match-up came about. However, I like Whittaker a lot here. Romero is an outstanding wrestler, and he clearly has some knockout power. But, there’s really just something special about Whittaker. Look at what he did to get here. The man freaking dismantled Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. No one’s ever really done that to Jacare and just had their way with him. Even when Gegard Mousasi knocked out Jacare, it was basically a flukey upkick knockout. Whittaker just destroyed him. When he’s on, he’s vicious, and his power and striking can’t be taken lightly. Romero has a ridiculous physique, but that could affect his cardio in a five-round fight. I’m going with the upset here and picking Robert Whittaker.

    Winner: Robert Whittaker, TKO, Round 3

    Dan Plunkett: I hate picking against Yoel Romero. His performances are often average for long stretches, and then he does something ridiculous to win the fight. He is just absurdly athletic. I think Robert Whittaker will win most of this fight and look really good, but then Romero will do something ridiculous to win.

    Winner: Romero, TKO, Round 4

    The staff picks Robert Whittaker, 2-1.


    UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko

    Robert Winfree: This will be an interesting challenge for Amanda Nunes. Nunes has gotten by primarily by smashing women in the first round when they’re unprepared for her punching power and general ferocity, the fact that most of the women in the division have grappling backgrounds only exacerbates this issue. In fact the last time Nunes went beyond the first round was her fight with Shevchenko, and she gassed pretty badly in the third but had won the first two rounds. Nunes has no doubt worked on that problem, but we’ve yet to see it in practice. I’m really curious as to how Nunes will react if Shevchenko doesn’t just wilt under a few stiff punches, and how she’ll handle the fight if it drags out. Shevchenko is a very talented fighter, her striking background is her best asset here as she knows how to roll with punches and counters incredibly quickly. Over five rounds I tend to feel there’s just too much time for this fight to shift towards Shevchenko, though Nunes could very well land a few good hard punches early and take this thing quickly.

    Winner: Valentina Shevchenko, TKO, Round 4

    Jeffrey Harris: I really like this rematch. They had a very good outing the first time where Valentina Shevchenko walked away with a loss, but she looked even stronger as the fight went on in a three-round right. Now, she gets Nunes for five rounds. Nunes is a vicious knockout artist with a ton of power. Shevchenko is an incredibly dynamic kickboxer who managed to defeat the former champion Holly Holm in a five-round war. Then she showed her versatility by beating Julianna Pena with an armbar. I really like Shevchenko here. True, she lost the first fight with Nunes, but she lost the fight due to points and clearly bested Nunes in the third round. Not only that, Shevchenko appears to be the type of opponent to take Nunes into deeper waters and test her there. She’s an insanely high level kickboxer, and she has cardio for days. She wasn’t really supposed to beat Holly Holm either, and yet she did.

    Winner: Valentina Shevchenko, Decision

    Dan Plunkett: I think if Shevchenko makes it past the first two rounds, Nunes will fade and it will be the challenger’s fight. Nunes has shown big power and will be very dangerous to Shevchenko on top, but I think Shevchenko gets it down.

    Winner: Shevchenko, Decision

    The staff picks Valentina Shevchenko, 3-0.


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