WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – TIPS, TARGETS AND FADES
UPDATE: Amanda Nunes has withdrawn from UFC 213. Her and Valentina Shevchenko will not accrue fantasy points.
Saturday night’s UFC 213 has all the makings of a great card. There are a couple of high-level rematches, important contender bouts and a clash of veterans still looking to get in range of a title shot. With International Fight Week in full swing, the atmosphere surrounding the weekend’s pair of cards is positively electric, and we get the bonus of extra fight footage, open workouts, pressers and all manner of PR designed to encapsulate the full fan experience.
As per my usual, I’ve selected a quartet of fighters to represent the underdog faction for the event. These are the fighters I feel have the best chance to upset the applecart of favorites. Let’s get started.
Valentina Shevchenko $8,200 / Amanda Nunes $8,000
This rematch has “five alarm fire” written all over it. In their first outing, we saw Amanda come on strong in the first two rounds and Valentina dominating the third. It’s a fight that should have been five rounds (I’m a proponent of main and co-main events being five rounds), and had it been, we may have seen a different outcome.
Both women are tremendous strikers with Valentina being a little more technical and Nunes being the more powerful of the two. Nunes’ hyper-aggressive striking style poses a significant threat, as she proved in the Rousey fight, and she’s got a keen eye for figuring out her opponents’ weaknesses and capitalizing on them instantly. She’s developed a solid fight IQ and makes necessary adjustments quickly and efficiently, both on the feet and on the ground (See Miesha Tate fight).
Shevchenko has shown marked improvement over her last couple performances, thoroughly dominating Holly Holm from bell to bell, and submitting Julianna Peña just inside the 10-minute mark. Valentina’s got a constantly evolving ground game, and while in the first fight it took her two rounds to get Nunes figured out, she did an outstanding job in the third, winning in the clinch and stuffing Amanda’s takedowns and even securing one of her own on a reversal.
That said, I feel that Nunes has far eclipsed Shevchenko improvement-wise, and will likely find herself winning the striking exchanges. It’s hard to call a winner here, especially with both women showing considerable improvement since their first meeting, but I am confident that Nunes has the bigger opportunity to find victory.
Amanda Nunes via DEC
Robert Whittaker $8,300 / Yoel Romero $7,900
Bobby Knuckles is a legitimate threat to anyone at 185, make no mistake about that. He’s a quick, powerful striker with fight-ending power and the ability to mix in highly effective kicks to his offensive game.
Yoel Romero is a specimen, as evidenced by the open workouts earlier this week. He’s flexible with magnificent fast twitch reflexes and he’s powerful—devastatingly so. From crushing flying knees to crisp, fluid striking, Yoel is the total package. He’s great on the ground, he’s great in the standup. Yoel Romero is simply great.
In this particular match-up, I honestly think it’s going to come down to conditioning. Romero does well from the opening stanza to the last and has several late round finishes to his credit. He’s also quite durable with the ability to absorb heavy punches well.
This is probably the most evenly matched fight on the card, and whoever wins will go on to face Michael Bisping (provided Georges St-Pierre doesn’t slide back into the MW title picture again). I had a hard time picking a winner here, but I had to take Romero because I feel he’s slightly more well-rounded and durable.
Yoel Romero via (T)KO
Alistair Overeem $8,400 / Fabricio Werdum $7,800
The rubber match is finally coming into existence after a prolonged, six-year wait. The first fight saw Werdum win via kimura, the second saw Overeem victorious via a boring UD that featured Fabricio wallowing about on the canvas practically begging Alistair to get in his guard. Overeem, however, fought smart and stayed in his comfort zone.
That was an entirely different version of Werdum, though. His current incarnation is a savvy striker with those ever-present, spectacular grappling skills. He uses hard knees in the clinch very well (see Mark Hunt fight), and put on a clinic against former champion Cain Velasquez.
Overeem starts off fast and strong but makes costly mistakes that can lead to disappointing losses (see Stipe Miocic fight). If Werdum can weather the early onslaught, he should be able to snag the victory and claim rights to the trilogy throne.
Fabricio Werdum via DEC
Anthony Pettis $8,900 / Jim Miller $7,300
The first thing I want to point out here is the records of our two combatants over their last four outings: Jim Miller is 3-1 in his last 4 fights and Anthony Pettis is 1-3 in his last 4 fights. Now, on to the meat and potatoes of this match-up.
Anthony Pettis is a flashy, unorthodox striker with a propensity to pull off finishes just at the point you’ve counted him out (see Charles Oliveira fight). He’s also a crafty grappler who can nab a submission over some of the top ground artists in the sport. That said, those that push the pace and close the distance, the men that get right in his face are the ones that find themselves victorious.
Unfortunately for “Showtime,” Jim Miller is a very aggressive, in-your-face striker, willing to trade leather for leather, whether it be to set up takedowns or to wear you out with a constant barrage in the clinch. Let’s not forget how dangerous Miller is on the ground. He has one of the best offensive guards in the sport and is one of the few fighters that is just as deadly from his back as he is from the top position.
This won’t be a walk in the park, but I do feel Miller has an excellent chance to get the W.
Jim Miller via DEC
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.