UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship: Amanda Nunes (c) (14-4) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (14-2)
Luke Irwin: This is going to depend on if Shevchenko can keep Nunes at range, and if Nunes has the wind to go the distance in the championship rounds. She’s never been past the third round, and she usually looks pretty gassed when it goes over two. If Shevchenko can keep a patient, but active gameplan in front of her, she can wear Nunes out. Shevchenko via SD.
Nolan Howell: Really a coin flip here as I’d slot Shevchenko as the more well-rounded of the two in terms of technique standing, but Nunes has the power advantage. While Shevchenko is sneaky good on the mat, Nunes has also submitted more quality grapplers. If this goes the distance, I see Shevchenko taking it over a five-round fight, while I’d be inclined to favor a stoppage victory to Nunes. And given that Nunes has notched a decision over Shevchenko before, barring a perfected gameplan, this should be Nunes furthering the gulf. Amanda Nunes by second-round TKO.
Interim UFC World Middleweight Championship: Robert Whittaker (18-4) vs. Yoel Romero (13-1)
Luke: HOOO BOY, this is going to be violent. These two are capable of seperating your head from your spinal column fairly easily. The difference is going to be if Romero can take control of Whittaker to limit his hands or if Bobby Knuckles can keep Yoel at bay. I think the five rounds favor Whittaker, so I’m leaning that way, but this is an extremely close call. Whittaker via SD.
Nolan: While Whittaker has superb takedown defense, a mountain would struggle against the wrestling of Romero and the athleticism Romero brings to all other facets of his game troubles fighters more skilled in these areas all the time. Still, something is telling me that Whittaker clips Romero coming in one way or another. Call it a hunch. Robert Whittaker by first-round KO.
Heavyweight Bout: Curtis Blaydes (6-1) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1)
Luke: This is a showcase for Blaydes. Blaydes via R1 TKO.
Nolan: Blaydes with the takedown and Blaydes with the finish. Curtis Blaydes by first-round TKO.
Heavyweight Bout: Alistair Overeem (42-15) vs. Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1)
Luke: This is the rubber match between the two, occurring over three separate promotions. This won’t be the same Werdum that Reem has faced before, as his striking is vastly improved over the last few years. I think Fabricio can stun him with a shot, then the best submission heavyweight in the world can go to work. Werdum via R1 Submission.
Nolan: With Werdum’s stand-up improvement since the last time these two met, it swings things more in his favor. Overeem’s best shot is to fight smart and ugly, earning takedowns with sweeps out of the clinch, backing away, and picking his shots. Still, the likelihood of Overeem covering his chin for three rounds against a more confident Werdum seems less likely as the years go on and Werdum clips him to get it to his world. Fabricio Werdum by second-round submission.
Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9)
Luke: Barring Pettis doesn’t get injured walking to the cage, he’s not going to put away Miller, but he can be outpointed, which I think Pettis’s supreme striking can do. He’s athletic enough to keep his distance from Miller. Pettis via UD.
Nolan: If Pettis plays it smart, he can rack up damage on Miller and finish late. Pettis is a bit too crafty to get caught in something from a shopworn fighter like Miller, or at least one would hope even as he has declined. Pettis plays it safe and batters Miller for three. Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision.