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UFC 213 : NUNES vs SHEVCHENKO – PREVIEW + BEST BET

UFC International Fight Week is upon us here in Las Vegas and T Mobile Arena will play host to the TUF 25 Finale and UFC 213 cards. Leading up to those two events will be a plethora of activities for fight fans to experience. And for those of us who like to indulge in the exercise of speculation, there’s a wealth of wagering opportunities for us to look forward to. Personally, I’ve got my eye on a handful of positions I’m confident offer up the best of it so let’s do some damage.

 

The main event for UFC 213 features the women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (14-4), who aims to defend her 135 lb strap against #1 contender Valentina Shevchenko (14-2). This marks the second time in a little over a year that these two women will face off.

 

Both were trying to make their way up the bantamweight ladder when their paths crossed at UFC 196. Nunes won via unanimous decision and parlayed the victory into a title fight against Ronda Rousey.

 

The rest as they say is history, so now let’s look to the future…

 

The rematch was scheduled back in May and the Westgate Superbook opened champion Nunes as a -140 betting favorite, with the take-back on challenger Shevchenko +120. As we go to print the odds have changed significantly and it’s now the challenger who’s listed as a -115 favorite. It appears the betting market has decided the outcome of the rematch to be a coin-flip, which is a conclusion I strongly disagree with. Let me explain.

 

Simply put, Amada Nunes continues to receive no respect from both the odds makers and the bettors alike. Even after winning 7 of her 8 UFC bouts, beating arguably the most dominant female mixed martial artist of all time in Rousy, and owning a victory against Shevchenko already, Nunes is still being bet against. I don’t mind that one bit, since it results in even more value when backing her.

 

In their first bout Nunes dominated rounds 1 and 2, by out-striking Shevchenko when standing and then completely controlling her on the ground. In fact, Valentina had absolutely no answers at all when Nunes was in her guard. The challenger attempted no submissions off of her back and took a lot of punishment when the champion had top control. But in the 3rd round it appeared Nunes had gassed and Shevchenko took full advantage, taking the momentum away and clearly avoiding a sweep on the judges scorecards.

 

Nunes’ cardio has been the greatest concern and question heading into the rematch. Unlike the last time this is a title fight, scheduled for 5 rounds instead of just 3. Since September of 2014 the champion has finished all of her opponents inside the 1st round except for one, Valentina Shevchenko.

 

The champion is big for a bantamweight and when both enter the Octagon, her size advantage will be obvious. Having so much muscle on a 135 lb frame takes it’s toll and Nunes’ endurance has had to pay the cost. With that said, we have to keep in mind that she’ll be preparing herself for a 5 round fight and knows it’s highly probable it’ll go a full 5. Both women have experienced the other’s skills, strengths, and toughness so rest assured both know what will be demanded of them to emerge victorious this Saturday night.

 

Therefore it should come as no surprise if we see Shevchenko employ a lot of patience early on in the bout and attempt to take it into the championship rounds. Stylistically the former muay thai and kick boxing champion is a counter puncher, so employing patience has never been a problem . She’s an extremely technical and accurate striker who prefers to use her range even though she’s undersized for the division. The challenger is still developing her ground game and though she’s not afraid to take a fight to the mat, she’s much more comfortable standing or in the clinch.

 

Nunes will have a strength advantage and is much more aggressive offensively. That allowed her to dictate which way they circled on their feet, and it will give Nunes a huge advantage if she has success again. Since Shevchenko fights from the southpaw stance, Nunes wants to circle left in order to stay away from her power. On the flip side, by doing this the champion simultaneously walks Shevchenko into her power right hand since Nunes has an orthodox stance.

 

Finally, Nunes is an excellent wrestler with devistating ground and pound to go along with a decent submission game. She’s undoubtedly the biggest puncher in the division, with 7 of her last 8 wins coming via finish. Unlike the challenger, the champion showed the ability to fight off her back and get to her feet when Shevchenko had top control, showcasing how well rounded Nunes has become since joining American Top Team. She’s also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, making her extremely comfortable when the fight goes to the ground…and I believe Nunes will take it there multiple times throughout.

 

Bottom line, Nunes almost put Shevchenko away in the 2nd round at UFC 196 before settling for a unanimous decision victory. Although the challenger proved her toughness by not only surviving, but by coming back to win the 3rd and final round. Many said afterward that if it had been a 5 round bout, Shevchenko would’ve gone on to win. I believe that’s the main reason so many have already bet on her to extract revenge and capture the UFC womens bantamweight crown on Saturday night.

 

Therefore my plan is to sit back and let the Shevchenko money continue rolling in, then step up to the betting window and fire on the champion hopefully as an underdog !!

 

BEST BET = AMANDA NUNES