WATCH: MAIN EVENT BREAKDOWN
UPDATE: Amanda Nunes has withdrawn from UFC 213. Her and Valentina Shevchenko will not accrue fantasy points.
UFC 213 goes down on Saturday, July 8th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two title fights top this event, with women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes defending her title against Valentina Shevchenko, while Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker are set to compete for the interim middleweight belt, as Michael Bisping remains on the mend due to injury.
This is the second of two great UFC shows to look forward to on International Fight Week 2017, with The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale preceding it on Friday. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the UFC 213 fighters who could kick off July with high-scoring performances to benefit your DraftKings team(s).
Amanda Nunes ($8,000) vs. Valentina Shevchenko ($8,200)
It’s been almost exactly one year since Nunes captured UFC gold against Miesha Tate at UFC 200. The Brazilian systematically picked Tate apart and choked her out in round one, then she destroyed Ronda Rousey in 48 seconds to end 2016. Of course, Nunes’ terrific year began with a unanimous decision win over Kyrgyzstan’s Shevchenko, who has since defeated Holly Holm by decision and Julianna Pena by submission, thus rightly earning her highly-anticipated rematch with Nunes.
Shevchenko is a superb striker with an ever-improving ground game, but it is still her biggest weakness. Nunes has the power advantage on the feet, plus an outstanding top game. As ever, concern with Nunes will be her cardio, but given her 5-0 record as a full-time American Top Team member, $8,000 is a great value. I back Nunes to make another successful title defense.
Number of Note: 8. Nunes’ last eight finishes have all come in the opening round, with five coming by (T)KO and three by rear-naked choke.
Robert Whittaker ($8,300) vs. Yoel Romero ($7,900)
The Aussie has been sensational since abandoning the welterweight division. His powerful, technically sharp striking has yet to be solved by anyone at 185. Whittaker’s last outing was a sensational TKO finish of feared submission specialist Jacare Souza, who experienced first hand just how good Whittaker’s takedown defense is. Romero not only has a win over Jacare but also former UFC champions Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman. The Weidman fight took place at UFC 205 in November, with Romero winning by flying knee TKO.
Romero’s decorated wrestling background (which netted him an Olympic silver medal) poses the biggest test to date for Whittaker. On the flip side, Whittaker has the superior boxing and power to compromise the Cuban’s chin. Romero also possesses elite finishing abilities. It’s a great matchup but I think the much younger Whittaker keeps it standing and defeats Romero in a thriller.
Number of Note: 10. Romero and Whittaker have had a combined 14 fights at middleweight, and 10 of those have ended in knockout victories.
Curtis Blaydes ($9,500) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk ($6,700)
Blaydes didn’t get the easiest of debuts in the UFC, losing by doctor’s stoppage TKO to Francis Ngannou, but it was a fairly competitive fight. He has since rebounded by comprehensively dominating Cody East and Adam Milstead, but the Milstead win was overturned to a no contest by Texas’ commission after he tested positive for marijuana. Poland’s Omielanczuk was on a three-fight winning streak before running into Stefan Struve, who submitted him at UFC 204. He then lost by ugly split decision to Timothy Johnson earlier this March.
The American is a very talented wrestler with various types of takedowns, hard leg kicks (as Milstead found out), top-level athleticism, and great top control offense. Blaydes looks to have a bright future in this division, and I think he dominates Omielanczuk on Saturday.
Number of Note: 0. None of Blaydes’ eight professional fights (6-1, 1 NC) have gone the distance. Also, Omielanczuk has zero losses by KO or TKO.
Thiago Santos ($8,500) vs. Gerald Meerschaert ($7,700)
After consecutive defeats to Gegard Mousasi and Eric Spicely, the Brazilian returned to the win column with an amazing spinning heel kick TKO of Jack Marshman this past February. Meerschaert is seeking a third straight Octagon win and an eighth overall. The submission specialist has forced both Joe Gigliotti and Ryan Janes to tap out in his previous UFC appearances.
This is an intriguing stylistic clash. Santos is the much better striker, particularly with his punishing kicks, but Meerschaert is a serious threat on the ground whether he’s on his back or on top. Ultimately, Santos’ takedown defense will be too tough for Meerschaert to crack, and I think Santos is going to put the American away in an entertaining contest.
Number of Note: 4. Santos has five (T)KO) wins to his name in the UFC, and an astonishing four of them have involved either a body or head kick.
Rob Font ($9,200) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade ($7,000)
Font formerly was the CES MMA featherweight champion but opted to drop to 135 when he debuted in the UFC back in 2014. So far, so good for the Massachusetts native, as he sports a 3-1 record, including a TKO of Matt Schnell in December. Like Font, injuries have prevented de Andrade from having a more active schedule. His win-loss inside the Octagon is 2-1, with his most recent appearance in November 2016 resulting in a thrilling spinning back fist finish of the tough Henry Briones.
Both men throw with bad intentions and have proven their knockout capabilities on both the regional and UFC scene. I’m a believer in Font’s potential to be a contender in this increasingly stacked bantamweight division. de Andrade is a dangerous opponent, but I think Font will make full use of his physical advantages (namely his reach) for the win.
Number of Note: 54. In his three UFC wins, Font has landed 90 of 166 significant strikes, a connect rate of approximately 54%. He also scored three knockdowns (and eventual knockouts) in those bouts.
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