Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown of MMA Oddsbreaker takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC 213 as the women's bantamweight title is on the line. Amanda Nunes defends her championship just under one year to the day she won it against Miesha Tate. In this title defense, she takes on Valentina Shevchenko.
Amanda Nunes (Record: 14-2, -105 Underdog, Power Ranking: A+)
The 29-year-old Salvador, Bahia, Brazil born bantamweight enters her second UFC women's bantamweight title defense on a five-fight winning streak. Nunes last fought in December 2017, when she headlined UFC 207 and stunned Ronda Rousey with a stoppage victory in less than one minute. Nunes is the only Brazilian currently holding a UFC championship in any weight class.In the women's bantamweight division, there are very few knockout threats. With that said, Nunes may be the most feared striker in the division. Of her 14 career wins, 10 of them have come by knockout. She's big for the weight class with a 69-inch reach and uses her size well to wind up and land heavy strikes. She can absolutely knock out an opponent on the feet, but where she does her best work is on the ground from top control.
Nunes averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon and succeeds in scoring takedowns at a 38-percent clip. From her solid wrestling game, she has excellent ground-and-pound. She does a very good job at advancing positions to allow herself an opportunity to wail down on her opponent from top control to have an opportunity at a stoppage win due to strikes.
Nunes is also a high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Her skill set was on display in her title fight against Tate when she quickly latched on a submission to beat her opponent. Nunes is excellent in the first round of fights and typically able to start off with a lead in her bouts.
What has been the biggest hole in her game in the past has been conditioning. She slows down significantly in the second round and is running on empty in the third round. In every single third round she has been in during her professional career, she has been outstruck decisively.
Valentina Shevchenko (Record: 14-2, -115 Favorite, Power Ranking: A+)
A highly regarded Muay Thai striker, Shevchenko has now dedicated her time fully to MMA. She holds quality wins over some of the division's top-ranked fighters, outstriking Holly Holm and submitting Julianna Pena in her last two bouts. Her only career losses are to former title contender Liz Carmouche and Nunes.
A calculated striker, Shevchenko entered the UFC known for her striking prowess, but she has really worked hard to become an all-around mixed martial artist. Shevchenko has shown she can fight in various ways. In her fight versus Holm, she forced the American to come forward and easily out-landed her as the fight progressed. Her combination striking was pivotal in this fight to outstrike Holm 87 to 54.
What really stood out in this bout was her ability to turn it on in the championship rounds. Shevchenko did her best work in rounds four and five. They were her highest output rounds. Then in a much different type of performance, Shevchenko was forced into a grappling match with Julianna Pena.
Shevchenko showed she's much more than a stand-up striker by securing an armbar in the second round to stun Pena and make her the rightful top contender. Shevchenko is not the most powerful striker in the weight class, but her technique on the feet is capable of giving even top contenders problems. She combines that with an underrated wrestling game. Shevchenko has secured takedowns in all four of her UFC fights.
However, the key to her success is her ability to maintain a high pace and get better as the fight ticks on. In championship fights, that comes even more into effect as she has 25 minutes to work.
An excellent matchup headlines UFC 213 with Nunes defending her title against Shevchenko in a rematch. These two fighters first fought at UFC 196 in March of 2016. In that bout, Nunes secured takedowns in the first two rounds and had to hang on in the third round to win a decision on the scorecards.
Both fighters have shown skill improvements since that fight, making this an even more compelling contest. While the skill levels have increased, how this fight plays out remains the same. Look for Nunes to come out early and get the better of the striking in the early parts of this bout. Shevchenko has shown an ability to defend on the ground, so it will be hard for Nunes to finish.
The key question is, when will Nunes begin to tire? She needs to put in 15 solid minutes of work to win enough rounds and earn a decision win. There's no guarantee she's able to do that, which is why she is the slightest of underdogs in this bout despite being the division's most capable finisher. If Shevchenko can survive the early onslaught, she'll have a solid chance to win the fight.
This fight sets up well for live betting, as Shevchenko will likely be available at dog odds during this fight, and there will be opportunities to bet her as the fight progresses. If Shevchenko wins the first round, she will be an instant bet, as it will be very hard for Nunes to overcome a round deficit in this fight. Either way, the over 2.5 rounds prop stands a strong chance of landing. Given that these fighters went to a decision in their previous fight and Shevchenko has shown an ability to withstand early pressure, the over is worth consideration at -135.
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