Jordan Mein (29-11) vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2): In the first fight of the night we are kicking things off with a welterweight fight. Belal will be marking his one year anniversary in the UFC when he fights for the fifth time tonight for the organization. Both of his only two losses were in the UFC and with his most recent fight a win, he is looking to get traction. He has four wins by knockout and one of them is in the first. He seems to do better in fights when he can get the takedown even though he doesn't have many strikes landed on the ground so maybe he is doing it for the judges. Its also worth noting that he hasn't had to defend against takedowns yet in the UFC. His opponent has won 11 of his last 15 fights, but has currently lost two in a row. Jordan Mein has 40 fights under his belt at 27 and is one hell of a finisher. He has 16 wins by knockout and seven more by submission with 19 finishes in the first round. Mein picks his takedowns carefully and has great success when he goes for it. I believe Mein will be able to get Muhammad to the ground and grind him out. Into the second I think Mein will work him more and get a submission victory.
Thiago Santos (14-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-8): This next fight will move up a weight class to the middleweights. Gerald Meerschaert has just as impressive a finishing rate as he does a nerve-racking rate of getting finished. He has 19 wins by submission and five by knockout with 14 in the first, but he has lost by submission seven out of his total eight. Gerald is on a seven fight win streak, but he needs to bring down the rate he gets finished or it could put a damper on his longevity. His opponent is Thiago Santos who is more of a UFC vet even though he hasn't had as many total fights. Santos is the complete opposite stylistically. He has nine wins by knockout and one by submission with seven finishes in the first round. This fight will go quick in my opinion. I want to say this is going to go in Santos' favor because he has a good striking rate and Gerald doesn't take shots. Meerschaert normally gets his victories from out-grappling his opponent once they are already down and Santos is going to stand and bang. I'm calling for a TKO in the first.
Chad Laprise (12-2) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-3): This next fight will go back to the welterweights. Brian Camozzi has won five of his last six fights and his loss came from his UFC debut. He has four wins by submission and three by knockout making only one of his wins by decision and only one finish wasn't in the first round. Unfortunately his stats are shit right now because his only fight in the UFC is a loss and they don't account for stats outside of the organization. His opponent has six wins by knockout and one by submission with only one finish not in the first. Laprise likes to take early control of the octagon and uses distance to keep his opponent backing up. Camozzi is a good defensive grappler, but he prefers to stay on his feet. I think Laprise will try to work his usual game plan and Camozzi is going to defend well due to his reach advantage. I predict that Camozzi will try to push the pace and Laprise will start to go wild on punches and it will set up for Camozzi to drop him into a submission during the second round.
(#9) Travis Browne (18-6-1) vs (#14) Aleksei Oleinik (51-10-1): The main event for the prelims will show two ranked heavyweights face off. Aleksei Oleinik has won 12 of his last 13 bouts. In his career he has won 39 fights by submission and seven by knockout. With one and a half significant strikes per minute it shows that he is a very ground-oriented fighter. His opponent was once a beast with 14 of his 18 wins by knockout. Browne has recently been slipping very far with win only half of his last ten fights and lost his last three. I have no idea how he is going to come out in this fight and I think that Oleinik is going to get him on the ground and dominate him. This fight is going to take a while and Oleinik will finally put Browne away with a submission in the third.
(#6) Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9): The first fight on the card is kicked off with two veteran lightweights. Now Miller may not be ranked, but he is the kind of fighter that has seen all levels of talent throughout his career. Miller has 14 wins by submission and four by knockout. He is a tough competitor and always seems to get the upper-hand in a scramble. His opponent is what used to be the champ and one of the best lightweights we had seen for a while. Pettis has won ten of his last 15 and those losses took place in his most recent matches. He went down to featherweight after a three loss streak and went back up after going 1-1.He has wins by both knockout and submission and is known for being a mix of flashy and very technical. If Pettis is back in the form he was then this is going to be a long night for these two. As bad as I want to see the old Pettis come back I just don't think it will happen and I predict that Miller will get a TKO in the third.
(#1) Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs. (#3) Alistair Overeem (42-15): This next fight will be a rematch and what many think is for the next contender to the heavyweight title. The last time these two fought it went to Overeem by unanimous decision. Both fighters don't lose much and are skilled in every area. It will be fun to watch these guys square off again in what was one of only two losses for Werdum in the last ten years. I actually believe this will end the same way it did the first time. Both are amazing fighters and it takes something special to beat a guy who almost never loses and I think Overeem will be able to pull it off again. Overeem was able to out-strike Werdum and he effortlessly stopped shot after shot. He negated Werdum at every opportunity and came away looking dominant and I think he will take another unanimous decision here tonight.
(#15) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (7-1): Here is another heavyweight fight in two up-and-comers. Blaydes has won all of his wins by knockout or TKO. He loves to take shots and get people on the ground and just beat them down. In his three UFC fights he has landed 15 takedowns and almost 60% of his strikes are on the ground. His opponent may make him want to stay standing because Omielanczuk has won 15 of his last 19 fights. In his career he has nine wins by submission and five by knockout. I think Blaydes shows a very limited skill-set in what we have seen so far and with Omielanczuk being an experienced grappler we are all going to see it exploited. Blaydes is good at what he does, but he will be playing right into where his opponent wants to fight and I say Omielanczuk will get a first round submission victory.
(#1) Yoel Romero (12-1) vs. (#3) Robert Whittaker (19-4): The co-main event is for the interim middleweight title. This match has seen many changes since its original inception. Originally it was supposed to be Michael Bisping vs. GSP for the middleweight title. Then GSP said he wopuldn't be ready by then so Dana took him out and replaced him with Yoel Romero. Almost right after Gsp was taken off, Michael Bisping was all of a sudden injured and unable to make the date either. (Reminder: they stripped Randamie for less.) So Robert Whittaker was put in against Romero and now we are watching this fight. Yoel deserved the title shot, but the opportunity itself is about to be stolen from him in equal parts Bisping and Whittaker. Romero is a great fighter and can bang with the best of them so Bisping has been ducking. On top of that Whittaker is a freak and will come in and tear Romero apart. I want this to sound fair because Yoel Romero is easily title worthy, but Whittaker is a freight train with seven wins and a row and Romero and Bisping are both unlucky enough to be in this kid's way. I predict Whittaker with the TKO in the second or third.
(C) Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs. (#1) Valentina Shevchenko (14-2): Finally at the main event we see Amanda Nunes defend the women's bantamweight title for the third time. This is the second rematch of the night with the first victory going in the champ's favor. Nunes has a longer reach and lands strikes more often while Shevchenko has an extensive Muay Thai career and has shown that she can handle longer opponents with counters. Shevchenko doesn't waste time on strikes or pushing the pace really; she stands her ground and when her opponent comes in she lands devastating counters that almost always land. The champ, Amanda Nunes, is vicious, constantly pushing and mauling her opponent. We watched both of these game plans play out almost perfectly against each other until Nunes realized that Shevchenko couldn't get her off the mat. Even when Shevchenko had the opportunities later in the fight she was still working her counters well, but Nunes put her back on the mat and kept her there. Shevchenko started to come back a bit in the third by keeping Nunes on her feet. I think this fight will yield better results for Shevchenko. She has the experience of the first fight and was even making adjustments as the fight went on. I predict that Nunes is going to go back to thinking she can put Shevchenko on the mat and just bury her, but Shevchenko will know this is coming and have a better defense in place. This will allow her to land more and cause Nunes to worry and take more shots. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. I predict this fight to go the distance and Shevchenko will pick up the victory because she was able to keep Nunes up and as a result deal more punishment.
UFC 213: Nunes vs. Shevchenko: Welcome to a huge card to finish fight week with so much talent and superstar power. I was sad to see Lawler and Cerrone get moved but we respect Cerrone as this is his first time needing to pull out of a fight and still have a stacked card. Now before I start my predictions remember the rankings not in parentheses are our rankings and the ones in parentheses are the UFC rankings.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Jordan Mein (29-11) vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2): We shall kick off the televised fights with a big one here with Jordan Mein and Belal Muhammad. Belal is a machine with the ability to get the fight where he wants it. He got right back on track with his last win with 2 take downs and he grinded out that win. Belal is a tough dude and I believe he needs to really become a more aggressive fighter and come after his wins. His opponent is a guy that already successfully does this in Jordan Mein. I really like Jordan and his ability stop fights. He has stopped over 50% of his fights via KO alone and when you throw the submissions on top of it he has stopped over 75% of his fights. This kid is coming off 2 straight loses and needs to find a way to turn it around. He is a very quick handed and experienced fighter and I hope he comes back around and finds some momentum moving forward. This fight is going to go back and forth as it wages on but I believe in round 3 Mein will land the shot he is looking for and pick up a late TKO.
Thiago Santos (14-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-8): This middleweight brawl is going to see some sparks fly from one end and a bad ass submission artist on the other. The opposite ends of the MMA world will collide in this one. I see this one going back and forth and Meerschaert will look to land his impressive take downs and grab that ground game dominance. This kid brings another legit ground threat to the middleweight division as he has only fought 2 fights so far in the UFC and grabbed wins in both via 1st round submissions. His stand up isn’t bad but it isn’t good enough for him to rely on it to stay in a fight. He will need to look for fast strikes and shoot for his take downs if he wants to be successful in this fight. Now his opponent, Thiago Santos, better have worked on his takedown defense because Thiago brings a great stand-up and some lethal fists. Santos isn’t bad on the mat but he is better off standing especially in this one but if he can keep this one standing here is what you are going to see. Thiago throws his kicks very well and times them perfectly and I believe if he wants to keep this fight standing he needs to establish his high kicks and knees early to try and scare Meerschaert from diving for the take downs. If he can do this he will find himself at the end of the fight with his hand raised because his stand-up is far superior to his opponent. Now if I am stuck choosing someone to win this one I have to go with the guy I believe can change the fight with one simple takedown. I am going to take Meerschaert by way of 2nd round submission.
Chad Laprise (12-2) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-3): This fight in the welterweight division will bring some pop and has two fighters who can both handle the fight well anywhere the fight goes. I believe Camozzi had a rough entrance to the UFC but we will see him come out strong looking for his first career UFC win in this one. Camozzi hasn’t allowed a fight to go to the judges and I believe he will fight with that same mentality. Camozzi got smashed before he finally went out in his last fight and it showed how durable and tough this guy is and I believe that will be a great thing for the future of his career in the UFC. He has great help with rebounding from his loss though as his brother Chris is a UFC vet and has had a up and down career in the UFC before finding his footing. I believe Brian is so well-rounded that he could push pressure and take the fight wherever his camp feels he has the advantage and I believe we will see him go for that. If Brian can figure things out and get some momentum he could become a legit threat in the welterweight division. Now that being said I believe Chad Laprise is a ranked fighter in the waiting as well and will put on an interesting showdown here with Brian. Chad has stopped 7 of his 12 wins and 6 of them have been finished in the 1st round. Chad needs to make sure he doesn’t get gassed in this fight if he doesn’t finish it early because he has the skill set to win this thing if he can keep the fight on the feet. I believe standup he might have a very small edge and he will most likely keep the fight on its feet. I am more excited for this fight the more I have watched on both fighters in preparation for this fight and believe they could put on a real show for the fans. I am going to take Camozzi though to pick up his first UFC win in the 2nd round via a RNC submission.
#12 (9) Travis Browne (18-6-1) vs. #15 (14) Aleksei Oleinik (51-10-1): The main event of the televised prelims is a huge fight for both guys in the heavyweight division. Aleksei is entering his 63rd professional fight and is coming off a performance of the night which is as of now leader for submission of the year type of performance. He might be 40 years of age but the guy is still extremely lethal and a major threat to fighters in the heavyweight division. Aleksei’s nickname is the “boa constrictor” because he is one of the best fighters in the UFC on the mat and probably is the best in the heavyweight division on landing submissions. He is a sambo fighter and if you aren’t sure what sambo is I suggest you go here, http://www.mattandmikesports.com/styles-of-martial-arts.html and look for the sambo portion, it is a great read and very helpful for understanding it. He will probably look for Browne to push the pace a little and eventually shoot for his takedown and go for the win once he finds the mat. Now his opponent is coming in knowing this is do or die for him. Travis is coming in off 3 straight losses and must find a way to win this one not only for himself but his job in the UFC is probably in danger if he loses another one. Travis has the skill-set as I have said before to be a title fighter but ever since switching to Ronda’s gym he has become a terrible fighter. He seems to be lacking the push of the pace he used to have and his chin seem to have disappeared. I used to be a huge fan of Travis and I believe he can return to form if he can just become the aggressive fighter we know and land his big fists. This guy is a great athlete with an athletic build for his 6 foot 7 frame and could become a lethal stand-up KO specialist in the heavyweight division I just feel he lost that heart in his last 4 fights and hope he has it back this weekend. If he does we will see a great showdown but if not we will see the end of Browne as Oleinik is one tough Russian who will destroy any weakness. I truly believe in calling what I have seen lately and I just think Aleksei is more determined and fighting with that heart to prove at 40 he still belongs and he will get a 1st round submission to end the FS1 prelims.
UFC 213 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#7 Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9, 1NC): We kick off the main card on the PPV with a huge fight in the lightweight division. The former champ in Pettis vs. one of the toughest dudes in the UFC the vet Jim Miller. Miller is a grinder, tough, physical, wrestler with one of the best cardio’s in the UFC and he will not tire and he won’t back down from his opponents flashy style. Jim will look to get past all the flashy stuff that his opponent will throw and close the distance down and land his takedowns. If Jim Miller can get this fight to the ground he will grind out and tire down Anthony and look for a submission which he will probably find as he has stopped 14 of his fights this way and it truly is what he does best. Now the former champ Anthony Pettis is trying to find himself again lately as he struggled badly after losing the title and after a couple tough losses went down a weight class and went 1-1 and missed weight once while down a weight class. He is now back to the lightweight division and hopes he has figured things out and can make a serious run for his title again. Anthony is frustrating because he has such an incredible top of the line skill-set but he seems to get discouraged mid-fight if he loses a round or eats one big shot. Anthony needs to remember he is the former champ for a reason and personally when he was running through this division there wasn’t a more entertaining fighter in the world to watch. I hope he finds that heart, that pace, and that determination again because he could be world class again if he does. He is one of the flashiest fighters in the world if you didn’t know his nickname “Showtime” is seriously deserving as he throws some incredibly well timed highlight reel stuff. He can wrestle with Jim if this fight goes to the ground though as he does train out of Rufus’ gym which is one of the more physically demanding gyms in the UFC. I am not sure which Pettis we will see in this fight but I believe that Duke Rufus will have gotten his head right and he will pick up a 2nd round TKO win to prove he is back in this division to stay.
#1 (1) Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs. #2 (3) Alistair Overeem (42-15, 1NC): For the 3rd time this fight is going to happen and it will be the best of the 3 I believe. These two heavyweights don’t need much of an introduction. I believe Overeem will look to end this thing early because of the two Wedrum historically gets better as the fight goes on. If the Reem wants this win he needs to come into this fight with the aggression and push the pace and back Werdum down for the duration of this one because he doesn’t need Werdum getting momentum or landing full strength. Now if Werdum wants to win this fight there are 2 things he can do that would be huge for him. He needs to push his pace with his kicks and flying knees and keep Overeem on his toes and if he does that he will most likely see out a KO victory. The thing he can do though that will guarantee himself a win is get this fight to the ground and he would dominate Alistair on the mat and pick up a win and probably be next for Stipe. Werdum and Overeem both have been stopped by Stipe and I believe the winner of this fight will be granted another shot at the title which is deserved, maybe not over Ngannou, but this is one tough fight to call. Here is one thing I do know about this fight, it will not last 15 minutes. I am really having a tough time with this one but Overeem looked good at weigh-ins and when he looks healthy and fit he is as lethal as they come so I am going to take Overeem via 1st round KO over the legend Werdum.
(15) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1, 1NC) vs. Curtis Blaydes (7-1): These two heavyweights are very interesting. They are the fight they pulled off the prelims to replace Cerrone and Lawler and I believe that is because this one will see a stoppage too. Blaydes is one big dude with some intense power that are backed behind his 80 inch reach and this dude uses his range and power well. All 7 of his wins have been KO stoppages as his one loss he was KO’d by the man himself Francis Ngannou. Blaydes has good cardio for a big guy and his aggression and love to push the pace and come for the win. He will surely put on a show win or lose in this one and I know we will see him ranked one day in this weak division in which he can help seriously get some attention to. Now his opponent is a guy who can fight standing or on the ground and looks to find himself upsetting the odds makers in this one. He is coming off of two tough losses against Timothy Johnson and Stefan Struve and really hopes to find the momentum here and turn around his bad luck as of late. Daniel hasn’t ever been stopped by strikes and this will be a real test to that chin in this one and I believe he will look to change the elevation and take this fight to the ground. I think the odds makers giving Daniel no chance in this one is interesting to me but I do agree that Blaydes will win this fight. I have Blaydes winning this fight via 1st round KO after he lands using that 6 inch reach advantage in this one.
#1 (1) Yoel Romero (12-1) vs. #2 (3) Robert Whittaker (19-4): The fight for the interim title of the middleweight division should make for an interesting one. I am excited for this one but as a fan I am afraid neither of these guys will get Bisping next regardless because of GSP being around. Now in Whittaker we see a humble quiet guy who has just been keeping his chin down and going to work working his way to this moment of his career and honestly been slept on by a lot of fans but he is no freakin’ joke. What I love about Whittaker is he is growing and learning between each and every single fight and has the ability to fight in any situation, doesn’t matter if it is on his feet, the ground on top or on his back. Whittaker is continuously working hard and growing and is going to one day hold the middleweight title and make a serious run with it around his waist. Now the only worry I have for Whittaker in this fight is that one or two good clean shots from his opponent probably could put a hole in a brick wall and would end any fighters night so he needs to be really careful landing his shots. Now the #1 fighter in this division for a long time, Yoel Romero, hasn’t lost since 2011. Yoel is a freak of nature if you look at his physique you would believe he was made in a lab. Now if Romero can land his heavy and powerful hands often he will find himself the winner of this fight but I am interested to see if this fight goes over 3 rounds can he still have anything left for this fight. I know Whittaker has the edge in all-around skills and cardio but it’s the power vs technical skills battle. I compare this to Dodson vs. Demetrious Johnson of the middleweight division. Who shall win? I am going to take Whittaker in the 4th round with a TKO finish because this guy is bound for history.
Champ Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs. #1 (1) Valentina Shevchenko (14-2): Oh BABY the rematch is on in the main event only this time it is for the title!! We have seen Amanda dominate since her win over Valentina and is enjoying a dominant title reign where she hasn’t been tested yet. I think Amanda’s aggression and phenomenal striking will be what people see as her only weapons but she is a great BJJ fighter as well and her move to ATT has only helped her. Now in their first fight Amanda used that aggression to walk down Valentina early for the first 3 rounds and pushed her pace and proved why she later became champ displaying her skills then her gas ran out in round 4 and 5 and we saw Valentina show her skills once she was able to find her footing. In this fight we will see both come out aggressive and I think Nunes is riding a wave of confidence that could be making her too confident as I believe this is the best duo of women in the bantamweight divisions. Now each time we have seen Valentina come into the octagon we have seen her improve and she looks even more fit entering this fight than last time as she is getting used to putting on the weight since she walks around at about 125. I am so excited to see the talents of these two savage women collide and it is truly going to be a back and forth war for the duration of this one. I do believe that the wave of confidence is going to be brought back to Earth though as I have Valentina picking up the 3rd round TKO and claiming the title setting these two up for a trilogy fight.
- Matt Koontz.