UFC 213: Romero vs. Whittaker main card preview and predictions

Once again, the pay-per-view that was to cap off International Fight Week has gotten derailed. A year after UFC 200 saw McGregor vs. Diaz 2 and Cormier vs. Jones 2 get scrapped from that card, UFC 213 is reeling as well.

After the dream fight between former UFC Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and multiple time UFC and WEC Lightweight title challenger Donald Cerrone got scrapped, the UFC tried to fix the damage. But now, the headliner between UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko has been scrapped too. Nunes was ill, and despite getting cleared by doctors, is choosing not to fight. UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk volunteered to take on Valentina in the interim, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission won’t allow it.

As a result, what was once an unmissable PPV slate is now a glorified FOX card with two of the PPV bouts being prelim type fights. Such is how it goes sometimes. Alas, here are my picks for tonight’s five fight main card slate.

UFC 213 Main Card (10/9c, PPV)

Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-1, 1 NC)

I already addressed this bout earlier, since the fight was supposed to be the headlining Fight Pass bout. Now that the main event has been scrapped, this fight will now be bumped up to open the PPV. At the very least, it’s a fun bout.

    De Andrade has won all but two of his 26 career fights, has 19 knockout wins, nine first round finishes and always goes for the kill. Font isn’t as much of a finisher, but has finished nine of his 13 wins. He’s 3-1 in the UFC, with all of his UFC wins coming via knockout. The former CES champion has seven first round finishes to date, and also has quite a chin, as he showed by going the distance against another great Brazilian striker in John Lineker.

This fight will be fast-paced, action-packed and a blast to watch. De Andrade can end anyone’s night with a single shot, but I’ll go with Font due to his experience against better opponents and gas tank. This should be an absolute treat to watch. Prediction: Font via tko, round 2. 

(6-FW) Anthony Pettis  (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9, 1NC)

Up next is a Lightweight bout between former UFC and WEC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and Jim Miller. Pettis is coming off a Featherweight title eliminator bout against Max Holloway in which he got thoroughly outclassed and finished in the third round of what was just his second Featherweight fight. Once viewed as a potentially budding superstar, Pettis has now lost four of his last five. He’s still too big a name and to get cut if he loses, but the leash is getting shorter by the loss.

Unlike Pettis, Miller is not a flashy striker. He’s a great wrestler  with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,  having utilized his ground skills to win 13 fights via submission and 11 via decision. In his nine years with the UFC, Miller has 17-8 with a no contest. His last bout was a thrilling decision loss to Dustin Poirier which snapped his three-fight winning streak. And while many people seem to think Miller will get finished by Pettis, I believe that won’t be the case. Miller is a gritty veteran who’s an expert on the ground, and Pettis’ weakness is his takedown defense. There’s a very good chance Miller pulls out the upset, and I’m calling for it to happen. Prediction: Miller  via decision.

Curtis Blaydes (6-1, 1NC) vs. Daniel Omielanchuk (19-7-1, 1 NC)

The middle bout is a Heavyweight bout that was initially penciled in as a prelim bout, before Cerrone vs. Lawler got post poned. There’s not much to say really. Omielanchuk has a winning UFC record and 16 finishes to his credit, 14 of his 28 career bouts, including five of his last seven, have been lackluster decisions. He’s lost two straight, but is fighting Blaydes because the UFC is trying to pad Blaydes’ resume while having more reasons to let go of Omielanchuk.

Speaking of Blaydes, all of his fights have ended via knockout. Surprisingly,  only two of those bouts ended in the first round, and both  were the results of his first two pro fights. He’s 1-1 with a no contest in the UFC, with the no contest being a win that was overturned because Blaydes tested positive for Marijuana. He’s got incredible knockout power, has only lost to Francis Ngannou, and is way more athletic than Omielanchuk. This should be a one-sided bout, but keep in mind that stranger things than a potential upset have happened. Prediction: Blaydes via tko, round 2.

Alistair Overeem (42-15, 1 NC) vs. Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1)

In the co-main event of the evening,  former UFC Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum and former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Alistair Overeem will complete their trilogy. Werdum submitted Overeem in PRIDE over a decade ago, while Reem decisioned Werdum in Strikeforce in June 2011. A trilogy bout was due, and instead of taking place as the second bout of the main card, it is now the co-main event.

Both men are legends who’ve had stories careers. Werdum is arguably the greatest submission grappler in Heavyweight history, while Overeem is one of the best strikers in the history of the division. Reem’s knees, clinch and punches are all terrific, but Werdum’s is no joke either, as evidenced by his Muai Thai prowess. That, along with his edge on the ground and the fact that nobody is picking him, makes me wonder if Werdum will win in the end. Overeem einning makes more logical sense, but I’m picking Werdum to get the job done. Prediction: Werdum via close decision.

UFC “Interim” Middleweight Championship: (1) Yoel Romero (13-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (18-4)

In what was once the middle bout and scheduled to be the co-main event of the evening,  top Middleweight contenders Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker will battle for the division’s interim strap in the new co-main event of the evening. Hell, this is pretty much for the true title, since Bisping is hurt and ducking everyone of note in the division.

Romero is a former Olympic Silver Medalist in Freestyle Wrestling,  and has been great in MMA. At 13-1,  he’s won 11 fights via knockout. Despite being 40-years-old, he   often tends to win by trailing early before mounting comebacks to get the job done. He’s 8-0 in the UFC, and despite having a bevy of shady moments in his career, is worthy of the shot he’s been given.

So is Whittaker for that matter. At just 26-years-old, the TUF: Smashes Welterweight  winner went 3-2 with the UFC in that division, before moving up to Middleweight. Since the move up in weight class, “The Reaper” has been obliterating competition. He’s 6-0 in the division with four knockout victories, including over Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza most recently. A black belt in both Hapkido and Karate, Whittaker has finished 14 of his 18 wins, nine of them via knockout, and eleven finishes in the first round.

Long story short, this one is a barnburner. Both men are finishers with unique and loaded skillets and this one should be spectacular. Whittaker has become a sexy pick to get the job done, and I have no objections with that. I just feel like Romero will overcome the early storm as he always does, and will get another second or third round finish. No matter who wins though, I see the winner toppling Bisping if Bisping ever steps up. Prediction: Romero via tko round 2 or 3. 

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