UFC 213: Nunes vs. Shevchenko Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC 213 card in Las Vegas.
Updated: July 5, 2017 • 8:38 PM ET
Valentina Shevchenko has a chance to become the new women's bantamweight champion.
UFC 213 this Saturday from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas features a rematch between two of the most dangerous women in the world — And this time, it’s for the title.
Women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and No. 1 contender Valentina Shevchenko first faced off at UFC 196 in a hard-fought battle with Nunes winning by unanimous decision. Despite the decision loss, Shevchenko showed late signs of life in the fight, and many wondered what would have happened if it was a five-round fight instead of three. Those who wondered don’t have to wonder anymore.
The win over Shevchenko granted Nunes a title shot at UFC 200 against then champion Miesha Tate, where she bombarded Tate with heavy punches and knees, eventually winning by submission in the first round. Before the fight, Nunes gained a reputation for being a fast starter and lived up to her reputation by pushing forward with relentless pressure unlike anything Tate had seen before.
Nunes then defended her title at UFC 207 against former champion and most popular women’s fighter of all time, Ronda Rousey. It took only 48 seconds for Nunes to dismantle Rousey, shocking many in attendance and solidifying the notion that there’s a new era in women’s MMA that she is at the forefront of.
Nunes still hasn’t received the world tour of promotion that Rousey was gifted by the UFC, but perhaps this is a good thing because the Brazilian champion has been all business. Her title defense at UFC 213 will be her third fight in less than a year, and she’s the only champion other than Rousey to successfully defend the title in the division.
Shevchenko is coming off two straight victories, a five-round domination of former champion Holly Holm and most recently, a submission win over top contender Juliana Pena. Her last loss was to Nunes, but she has improved with each fight since. She even said during a UFC press conference in May that she believes Nunes got lucky in the first fight, which has now extended their rivalry to a much more angry place.
The two fighters seemed to be evenly matched in their first fight. Shevchenko has excellent Muay Thai, but showed a surprising ground game in her victory against Pena. Nunes has raw power unlike anyone else in her division, and that power lived up to the hype in the faces of Tate and Rousey when she hit them.
One would have to believe that Shevchenko will prepare to weather the early storm Nunes normally brings. Or maybe she’ll see an entirely different approach from Nunes, one where she paces herself and conserves energy for a five-round fight. Either way, fans should expect another hard-fought battle, one that won’t disappoint.
The co-main event of Saturday’s card features a fight for the interim middleweight title. No. 1 contender Yoel Romero will throw down with No. 3 middleweight Robert Whitaker. Romero has won eight straight fights, including wins against Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza and Lyoto Machida. Whitaker has collected seven straight victories, including wins over Souza, Uriah Hall and Derek Brunson.
Whitaker’s win over Souza was the biggest of his career, and many were surprised at how he dominated the fight. Romero’s last win came against former champion Weidman, and it was one of the biggest highlight reel knockouts of 2016. This will be the first five-round fight for both fighters, so who has the better endurance could be a factor for the winner.
Other fights on the main card include:
Heavyweight fight: No. 15 Daniel Omielanczuk vs. Curtis Blaydes
Heavyweight fight: No. 1 Fabricio Werdum vs. No. 3 Alistair Overeem
Lightweight fight: No. 6 Anthony Pettis vs. Jim Miller
Heavyweight fight: No. 9 Travis Browne vs. No. 14 Aleksei Oleinik
Welterweight fight: Chad Laprise vs. Brian Camozzi
Middleweight fight: Thiago Santos vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Welterweight fight: Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad