UFC 213 Main Event – UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship
It’s a battle of the powerful and hard-hitting striker in Amanda Nunes vs. the incredibly composed and precision counter-striking of Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes and Shevchenko are without question the two greatest women’s bantamweights out there in the world of mixed martial arts right now.
Height: 5’7″ (170cm)
Reach: 69.0″ (175cm)
Amanda Nunes has nearly cleared out the entire women’s bantamweight division. Nunes won the women’s bantamweight championship after spectacularly defeating Miesha Tate at UFC 200, submitting her just 3:16 into the first round.
She enters the octagon at UFC 213 after thoroughly destroying Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 in just 48 seconds. It wasn’t even close, and in fact, it’s one of a few flawless performances you’ll ever see in the sport of mixed martial arts, let alone a world title fight.
Height: 5’5″ (165cm)
Reach: 65.5″ (166cm)
Many feel that if anyone can stop Amanda Nunes’ reign at the top of the division, it will be Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko is the only one of Nunes’ opponents to make it out of the first round. She survived the initial onslaught and turned the fight on its head by the third round and won the final round. Unfortunately for Shevchenko, the fight was just three rounds instead of the five round battle it will be this time at UFC 213.
Shevchenko’s last performance was a remarkable armbar victory over Julianna Pena back at UFC on FOX 23 in January this year.
The First Time
This is not the first time that these two will meet inside the octagon. Nunes and Shevchenko previously met at UFC 196 in March 2016. Amanda Nunes dominated the first two rounds on the back of vicious ground and pound and heavy top pressure on the mat. In the closing stages of the second round, Nunes was emptying her tank in an attempt to finish Shevchenko with the rear-naked choke but couldn’t seal the deal.
Nunes was completely out of energy by the time the third round commenced. Nunes shot for a desperate takedown after a nasty Shevchenko elbow. Shevchenko ended up on top and this time controlled Nunes with ease and returned some of the punishment that she was dealt in the earlier two rounds.
All three judges scored the fight in favour of Amanda Nunes. While there would be no questions about the decision, there were questions of ‘what if the fight was five rounds?’
While the tide had turned by the third round in their original matchup, we now get to see what happens if this one makes it to the fourth and fifth rounds when Nunes and Shevchenko meet at UFC 213.
Amanda Nunes, while being incredibly powerful and accurate, won’t be able to engage Valentina as much as she likes because of Shevchenko’s Muay Thai stance which enables her to be ready for counter-striking opportunities at any given moment. Shevchenko’s efficiency was best on display against Holly Holm when she completely dominated the striking for the entire five rounds. While Shevchenko neutralises the output of Nunes, Shevchenko isn’t necessarily one to take charge and lead the striking, either, so there may be extended periods of inactivity.
Despite Valentina Shevchenko’s improving jiu-jitsu ability, Amanda Nunes still has the distinct advantage when this one hits the mat. Nunes is both strong and technically sound and can control opponents with ease as she rains down shots. It was this style of beatdown that led the judges to see a 10-8 round two for Nunes in the first bout. This time, Nunes will be increasingly aware of the dangers of going ‘all-out’ for the submission and instead look to control Valentina on the ground.
The five-round fight undoubtedly suits Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko practically gave away the first round against Nunes at UFC 196 as she attempted just 18 strikes compared to Nunes’ 37 at a distance. This is all part of Shevchenko’s ‘feeling-out’ process, and her slow starts are closely associated with the Muay Thai style of fighting. Every minute that the fight progresses, the probability of a Shevchenko win increases. Nunes will almost be battling both her opponent and the clock at UFC 213.
I’ll be leaning towards Valentina Shevchenko securing a victory. Yes, Nunes was more dominant in the first two rounds of their earlier bout, but it was only when the fight hit the mat. Shevchenko herself initiated the takedown that caused all the trouble for her in the second round. If Nunes can’t get her to the mat, it could be a long night for the champ.
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko to Win
Saturday 8th July – 11:30 pm (ET) / 3:30am GMT
Odds: +105 – Ladbrokes