After a hell of headliner between Justin Gaethje and Michael Johnson at the Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, the UFC is right back at it the following day. However, there’s a slight issue with what was once a stacked card. That issue is injuries. On the day of (today), UFC 213 lost it’s Women’s Bantamweight tile fight/headliner between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko due to Nunes falling ill. Before that, a Men’s Bantamweight title fight between champion Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw was scrapped, as well as entertaining fight between Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone. But, the show must go on!
So, headlining UFC 213 is now the Interim Middleweight title fight between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker. In what should be a entertaining scrap, the winner would not only receive a Middleweight title, but they will have the right to fight Michael Bisping to become the Undisputed Champion.
For Romero, it’s been a long road to finally get this shot at the title. With a perfect 8-0 UFC record, Romero has beaten some of the very best in the division. Names like Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, Tim Kennedy and Derek Brunson immediately jump out when observing this absurd run.
And as for Whittaker, it’s been an even crazier run to get this title shot. A former welterweight and Ultimate Fighter winner, Whittaker had just been mediocre in his early tenure with the UFC. The talent was there, but it just wasn’t clicking in fights. Then, Whittaker decided to go up 15 pounds, which at the time was a very rare move for a fighter to make. However, career-wise, it was life changing. Not only didn’t Whittaker have to kill himself to get down to 170 lbs., but he’s a perfect 6-0 in the Middleweight division, including finishing Jacare Souza for the first time since 2008.
Anyways, enough talk, let’s get to the Predictions!
UFC 213 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker for Interim Middleweight Title – This fight is going to be fireworks and I’m really conflicted on who wins. On one hand, Romero’s wrestling abilities are among the elite and he’s got ridiculous power in his hands. His cardio however is suspect given the amount of muscle he carries. On the other hand, Whittaker is a technical striker with ridiculous power as well. He’s purely a striker and he’s improved his takedowns defense to the point where I’m actually conflicted if Romero can get him down. The only reason I see Romero being able to is the fact that he’s going to be at least 20 pounds heavier than Whittaker on fight day.
Anyways, both these men are on a tear and the way I see it, is that Romero is going to win this. Although his cardio is spotty and this is a five round fight, I don’t see this one going the distance. I believe that Romero’s footwork, speed and explosiveness are huge factors in this fight. I see them presenting Romero with perfectly timed takedowns. Then, I see heavy ground-and-pound getting this one done. If Whittaker can stop the takedowns and keep distance, then he definitely can win this inside the distance. However, I got Romero via TKO!
265 lbs.: Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum – This is a trilogy fight, as Werdum was able to defeat Overeem back in 2006 via submission in PRIDE and Overeem paid the favor by defeating Werdum via decision in 2011 for Strikeforce. I vividly remember there last fight being an odd one too, as Werdum was winning the striking exchanges despite mainly being a ground fighter, but he kept falling to his back trying to get Overeem to jump into his guard. Overeem wound up getting the decision victory, but this fight is between two different fighters now. Overeem is smaller than he used to be, as he’s improved his cardio. He’s also become a cerebral fighter, avoiding brawls and picking his shots on the feet. As for Werdum, he’s no longer just a ground fighter. He’s a complete mixed martial artist and a legit striker. It’s crazy to say that, but he’s soundly outstruck Travis Browne on two occasions, Mark Hunt and Cain Velasquez.
Anyways, as for a prediction, I’m going with Overeem. I’ve been infatuated with this new cerebral Overeem, that I believe he will be a UFC champion before his time is over. His chin isn’t the best and that’s because of his old ways, but he’s always had power and his knees and kicks are still vicious. Werdum is a future hall-of-famer and I think he’s far from done, but I think Overeem’s got this. So with that, I got Overeem via late knockout.
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Daniel Omielanczuk – Nothing to see here. Omielanczuk is a standard heavyweight who has won fights by not gassing as much as his opponent has. That’s not going to work here, as not only is Blaydes not going to gas, but it’s not going the distance. Blaydes a physical beast with some power in his paws. Just the grappling alone will win this and I’m going to predict that Blaydes wins this via ground-and-pound TKO early.
155 lbs.: Jim Miller vs. Anthony Pettis – Talk about a decline. Pettis, the former Lightweight Champion has had a rough go these past two years. Not only did he lose his title, but he’s a combined 1-4 in his last five fights. A failed run at Featherweight has forced him back to Lightweight and he returns against the gritty Jim Miller. Is there something in New Jersey’s water because Miller has enjoyed a career resurgence. Miller is 3-1 in his last four fights, with the lone defeat coming via majority decision to Dustin Piorier. That’s pretty crazy given that Piorier nearly defeated the former Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez before illegal knees caused a no contest in that fight. Anyways, I’m going with Pettis here. While Miller’s route to victory of wrestling is Pettis achilles heel, I’m hoping here that Pettis has worked to improve that. I know he’s a dynamic striker, but he’s got to keep on the feet to be at his most advantageous position. I’m hoping for that, as I got Pettis winning this via decision.
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade – I like Font here mainly because I have no idea who Douglas Silva de Andrade is. I see he has a lot of knockouts, which should make for a fun fight at least. However, I got Font here to piece de Andrade on the feet and win this via decision.
UFC 213 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Travis Browne vs. Oleksiy Oleinik – Fun, but it’s about time Travis Browne get a victory. It’s been three straight losses for the former Heavyweight contender and the roughest thing about it, has been his rapid decline of skills. I mean, before his first fight against Fabricio Werdum, everyone thought that he bound to become a champion. Obviously that was far from the case, but he gets submission specialist here, who has a gas tank that last for less than a round. That spells well for Browne who will attack the body early and get this one done in round one via TKO.
170 lbs.: Brian Camozzi vs. Chad Laprise – Don’t know much about Brian, but this is a tough fight regardless. I gotta believe that Laprise is just going to piece Camozzi up on the feet en route to a decision victory.
185 lbs.: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Thiago Santos – Meerschaert has hit the UFC by storm with two quick first round stoppage victories. However, he’s running into stiff competition here, as Santos is no joke. His arsenal strikes and just the sheer power present problems for anyone. If he continues to shore up his take down defense, he will be a threat in an already stacked Middleweight division. Anyways, my prediction is that Santos wins this via KO!
170 lbs.: Jordan Mein vs. Belal Muhammad – If this fight happened two years ago when Mein was active, i’d of definitely sided with him. His arsenal of strikes make him a threat against anyone on the feet, but I feel like his brief retirement along with the amount of fights in such a short career has him looking lethargic. And despite Muhammad getting starched at UFC 200 against Vincente Luque, he bounced back nicely against Randy Brown. I think between his volume striking, timely takedowns and solid cardio, Muhammad should take this one via decision.
UFC 213 Prelims on UFC Fight Pass (7 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Cody Stamann vs. Terrion Ware – I somewhat know about Ware and his regional success, so I guess I’ll take him here. Ware via decision.
205 lbs.: James Bochnovic vs. Trevin Giles – No clue, but I remember a baseball player name Brian Giles…so I’ll go with Giles via decision.