They say opposites attract. Well, if that’s true, Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko should hurtle towards each other like a pair of comets on a collision course at UFC 213.
Defending bantamweight champ Nunes is arguably the fiercest striker in the women’s game, while Shevchenko is the supreme tactician and mistress in the clinch. Mark Sylvester gets out his ruler to size up this clash of the UFC queenpins.
Seriously, don’t even think of blinking in the first few seconds of this rematch between Amanda ‘The Lioness’ Nunes and Valentina ‘The Bullet’ Shevchenko. When the bell goes, we won’t even have reached the ‘g’ in ‘ding’ before the champ has parked herself up in Shevchenko’s business.
Nunes for the killer strike
Nunes has built her rocket-like ascent to the MMA summit on hurtling from her corner like a bull at a red flag sale. Some folks still haven’t quite recovered their breath after her 48-second obliteration of UFC legend Ronda Rousey. Rousey’s much-heralded octagon comeback ended in an almost cartoon-like blur of punches as Nunes left the blocks like an Olympic sprinter and pursued her across the canvas. Less than a minute – and 27 scoring punches later – it was all over.
Historically, if the Brazilian doesn’t get the job done early doors she has tended to run out of steam. It’d be a massive surprise if she completely ripped up her usual game plan, so you can expect her to go for the killer strike. A stoppage win for the champ is a healthy bet at 5/2. And let’s not forget Nunes claimed the crown with a savage first round destruction of Miesha Tate; pulping her face before locking on a near naked choke as the out-going champ balled up in a desperate attempt to protect herself.
If she can repeat that typhoon of terror on Shevchenko, the challenger could easily be tapping out early, which is a decent shout at 5/1.
Of course, these octagon warrior queens have met before at UFC 196, where Nunes shaved a close but unanimous decision. That was over three rounds, and while ‘The Lioness’ nailed the first two with her relentless pressure, she practically collapsed in the final chapter. Take note.
In contrast, ‘The Bullet’ is a notoriously slow starter, who’ll happily spend minutes letting her opponent set the pace. That can lure the innocent into thinking she’s there for the taking. Wrong! Her mind works like some high-tech tactical weapons system, and once she’s sized up the threat she can unleash hell.
Since losing to Nunes she’s come from behind to secure a unanimous decision over former champ Holly Holms, and brushed off some bruising encounters in the clinches to score a stunning armbar submission from Julianna Pena.
If this one makes it past round two, Shevchenko will be looking to pounce on any sign that Nunes is starting to run on fumes and muscle memory. If the Nunes express does run out of steam, don’t be surprised if it’s derailed by a sledgehammer from former kickboxing champ Shevchenko. A flutter that you’ll get at 5/1.
With their contrasting styles, possession of massive arsenals of potentially fightending weapons, and not-to-be-underestimated dislike of each other, there’s a number of ways this clash could go.
A lot of clever money will be going on it ending early. You will get either fighter to win by a stoppage at 17/10, or a submission at 39/20. But mine won’t.
This is how I see it. Nunes will come out fast and hard and look to finish it. You can’t teach an old(ish) lioness too many new tricks. But, if that doesn’t work – and I think Shevchenko’s too clever to get caught – she will re-think.
I really believe she does have this new trick in her locker. Knowing the limitations of her engine, I think Nunes will throttle back just a bit and we will have an epic encounter. I see Nunes getting the better of the exchanges, landing another narrow decision and cementing her place in the UFC pantheon. That’ll be a 9/2 shot.