A rematch between UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko headlines a promising card for the UFC’s big annual Fourth of July week card. An Interim Middleweight Championship between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker is the co-headliner of the night. A trilogy will end as Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum face off once again. The following are previews and predictions for the entirety of the card.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT)
Trevin Giles (9-0) vs. James Bochnovic (8-1) – Middleweight Bout
Two impressive newcomers are facing off in the opening bout of the evening. Trevin Giles stems from the Legacy Fighting Championship, RFA and LFA promotions meaning that he has faced some pretty steep competition on his way to becoming 9-0. Eight of his victories are from finishes with a healthy mix of knockouts and submissions. James Bochnovic also has an impressive record with seven of his eight wins via submission. In his last three bouts his opponents were 7-5, 5-5, 1-2 so his competition was a little less stiff. If Giles can keep the fight standing he will have the better striking here. His skill-set is much better all around and he’ll come out on top.
Prediction: Trevin Giles via TKO Round 2
Cody Stamann (13-1) vs. Terrion Ware (17-5) – Featherweight Bout
Two more newcomers are joining the UFC with Cody Stamann taking on Terrion Ware, who is moving up to featherweight for his UFC debut. Both of these men have similar styles, with more knockouts than submissions, and even more decisions than both combined. Stamann has only lost once via split decision in his young career. Ware has lost five times with three of those coming from submission. Ware has more experience, but the younger fighter in Stamann should have the better stamina and the smarter game-plan.
Prediction: Cody Stamann via Unanimous Decision
(#15) Rob Font (13-2) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-1, 1NC) – Bantamweight Bout
The main fight on UFC’s Fight Pass subscription service is going to a war. Rob Font throws like his life depends on it and has nine finish out of thirteen wins. His only two losses have come to Desmond Green in one of his first fights and in one to John Lineker in the UFC. Douglas Silva de Andrade has only one loss in his 25 fight career and that is to Zubaira Tukhugov. Andrade has 19 knockouts out of 24 wins, so these two should have fireworks. Rob Font is likely more skilled and has faced the tougher competition, plus he will have a three inch reach advantage. Look for Font to pick apart Andrade and be the first to finish him off.
Prediction: Rob Font via TKO Round 2
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT)
Jordan Mein (29-11) vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2) – Welterweight Bout
Going 2-2 so far, Belal Muhammad has had mixed success, beating both Randy Brown and Augusto Montano but losing to Vicente Luque and Alan Jouban. Muhammad is a purple belt in BJJ but has never submitted an opponent in his professional career. Jordan Mein took a year off from mixed martial arts and came back to face Emil Weber Meek in a war, but came out with a loss. Mein who has had 40 fights is only 27 years old and has always been an exciting fighter. Mein looks to stand and trade more often than not, but for a smoother path to a win he should go for the takedown against Muhammad, but he will want to put on a show.
Prediction: Jordan Mein via TKO Round 2
Thiago Santos (14-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-8) – Middleweight Bout
Thiago Santos was looking really good in his UFC career, then he hit a speed bump in the form of Gegard Mousasi and followed that up with a loss to Eric Spicely. A rebound win against Jack Marshman showed the Santos of old with his fire when he finished him with a nasty TKO. If this version of Santos shows up he should dismantle Geraled Meerschaert, if its the lazy and non-existent pressure version he could get finished. Meerschaert favors the ground game and has finished both his UFC bouts in exciting ways with an armbar and an anaconda choke. In the win over Ryan Janes, Meerschaert was getting beat up and found an armbar which showed real heart and a smart killer instinct. This may be an upset pick, but Meerschaert can find a limb and end quickly.
Prediction: Gerald Meerschaert via Submission Round 1
Chad Laprise (12-2) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-3) – Welterweight Bout
A win is needed for Brian Camozzi to keep his spot on the roster because he was dominated in his UFC debut by Randy Brow and he didn’t really look like he belonged in there. Camozzi fights similar to his brother Chris and is a finisher with four wins via submission and three via knockout. His opponent Chad Laprise has a good all around game, his wrestling and striking are on point and they helped him to win his season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Nations”. Laprise is moving up a weight class after going 3-2 with one of those wins happening when he missed weight. Laprise is 6-0 at welterweight and shouldn’t have much trouble here if he can get on the inside as he will be facing a seven inch reach advantage.
Prediction: Chad Laprise via Unanimous Decision
(#9) Travis Browne (18-6-1) vs. (#14) Oleksiy Oliynyk (51-10-1) – Heavyweight Bout
An interesting heavyweight bout that could be a changing of the guard in a weird circumstance takes place as the final bout of the televised prelims. Travis Browne is 34 years old and Oleksiy Oliynyk is 40. Browne is the hire rank at heavyweight, but the older man may be more of a threat here. His last win a knockout of Matt Mitrione in January of 2016, Browne has since lost three in a row to Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum and Derrick Lewis. Browne has only faced some of the highest competition, but he was knocked out twice in those three and was knocked out by Andrei Arlovski before that.
Oleksiy Oliynyk is a grappler that has had great success in mixed martial arts. He has a 4th degree black belt in Ju-Jitsu and is an international master of sports in combat Sambo. 51 wins and 10 losses, a long career that started in 1997 is coming to a peak for Oliynyk. If he can beat Browne he will break into the top 10 and be a few fights from a title shot. Brown has never been submitted, but if he were to be, Oliynyk would be the man to do so. He will try to take it straight to the ground and try to finish him off. Browne will try to keep it on the feet but he will ultimately fail, get taken to the mat and finished for the first time by submission.
Prediction: Oleksiy Oliynyk via Submission Round 1
PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. ET)
(#6) Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9, 1NC) – Lightweight Bout
A previous champion at lightweight Anthony Pettis dropped the belt to Rafael dos Anjos then went on to lose two more in a row, dropping to featherweight and going 1-1. Returning to lightweight hopefully Pettis has returned to his old ways and can look exciting and use his unique brand of striking against Jim Miller. Miller had a three fight winning streak snapped against Dustin Poirier in a very close and exciting bout. Miller has really opened up with his strikes in recent years, but excels so much on the ground that it would be wise to try to get Pettis down and outwork him. No matter where this fight goes it should be exciting and competitive. Pettis will have the upper-hand on the feet though.
Prediction:Anthony Pettis via TKO Round 3
(#1) Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs. (#3) Alistair Overeem (42-15, 1NC) – Heavyweight Bout
The final match of the trilogy between Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem is hopefully more like their first than their second bout. The second bout between these two was just Fabricio Werdum being scared of standing and flopping to his back constantly in hopes that Overeem would drop into his guard and almost nothing occurred in the course of 15 minutes. Werdum’s hands have improved tremendously since their last bout and he likely wouldn’t just flop to the ground again. Alistair Overeem will have every intention to stand and finish Werdum. The fight could go either way. Werdum just has a better overall skill-set and has more ways to finish than Overeem does. Overeem gets sloppy on the feet and Werdum sneaks in a right hand for the finish.
Prediction:Fabricio Werdum via TKO Round 2
(#15) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1, 1NC) vs. Curtis Blaydes (6-1, 1NC) – Heavyweight Bout
A 4-4 heavyweight is ranked #15 and he is currently on a two fight losing streak. The heavyweight division is fairly shallow when you near the tail end of the rankings. A win here for Curtis Blaydes could be all he needs to get into the rankings even though he is 1-1, 1NC in his last three. Every fight for Blaydes has finished via knockout and Daniel Omielanczuk has never been knocked out. This is the biggest test of Blaydes career by far and he will likely need to win a decision here in order to get by Omielanczuk. Wrestling is the strong suit for Omielanczuk, but Blaydes is no slouch in the area either. I see a tough, maybe not so exciting bout go to the judges and Blaydes gets the nod.
Prediction: Curtis Blaydes via Split Decision
(#1) Yoel Romero (12-1) vs. (#3) Robert Whittaker (19-4) – Interim Middleweight Championship Bout (5 Rounds)
The co-main event features one of the best possible matches that could be made between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker. The middleweight division is held back due to the champion Michael Bisping not fighting since defending his belt against Dan Henderson. The true contenders of the division move forward and will fight for an interim championship. This is such an intriguing bout between two rightful challengers. There are many different areas to look at in this fight as both have strengths and weaknesses. Let’s find out who will be superior.
Yoel Romero is unbeaten in the UFC going 8-0 and finishing six of those via knockout. Yoel Romero has Olympic level wrestling but uses it mostly defensively so he can use his freak athleticism to get a knockout. His size, strength and wrestling are his biggest attributes. The biggest weakness of Romero is his cardio that seems like he tires around the third round or so. The key for Romero is to use his style of striking to lull Whittaker into a sense of false security then strike and while he does tire out in third round, that is where almost every single finish has come for Romero in the UFC.
Since moving up to middleweight, Robert Whittaker has gone 6-0 and has finished four of those wins via TKO with some head kicks and knees mixed into them for good measure. His most impressive win was definitely against Ronaldo Souza last time out finishing him off with a nasty combination. Whittaker’s hands are incredible, his precision, power and ability to mix it up has allowed him to become a nightmare for his opponents. His takedown defense has held up well and he really has become the dark horse of the middleweight division. Whittaker will look to keep the fight standing and push the pace against the dangerous Romero. Whittaker comes forward and lands a slick head-kick and catches Romero and gets the finish in the second round.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker via TKO Round 2
(C) Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs. (#1) Valentina Shevchenko (14-2) – Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout (5 Rounds)
A rematch between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko headlines this card, but the twist is the belt is on the line now. Their first bout ended with Amanda Nunes getting the decision victory, but in the third round she faded hard and almost got finished by Shevchenko. The extra intrigue for this one comes in the form of those two extra round. Has Nunes upped her game enough since the last time out to finish Shevchenko early or will she crumble in the later rounds? Let’s start with the champion, her style, improvements and what she needs to get done.
Amanda Nunes has gone 7-1 in the UFC with her only loss in that stretch coming against Cat Zingano at the tail end of 2014. Nunes is a finisher and that has been proven with her only decision victory coming against Shevchenko a little over a year ago. Smart on the ground, Nunes prefers to batter her opponents on the feet and will swarm them with a rear-naked choke if they give up their back. Nunes mixes in some good Muay Thai in her striking, but is a high level BJJ practitioner and a brown belt in judo. If anything is a fault for Nunes in the past it is her cardio as the fight goes on. Nunes needs to pace herself and try to out land her opponent and hopefully finish the fight within two or three rounds.
The young Russian fighter Valentina Shevchenko is as well trained as almost any fighter. Backgrounds in kickboxing, boxing, Muay Thai, taekwondo and judo have her prepared for the fight to go anywhere. Shevchenko is 3-1 in the UFC beating Sarah Kaufman, Holly Holm and Julianna Pena. The striking and grappling of Shevchenko allow her to control her opponents and land more often than not. The biggest weakness she has is that she often is a slow starter. She lost the first two rounds to Nunes last time and she gave Holly Holm the first round in their fight. If Shevchenko wants to win she needs to be a little more active than normal and tire out Nunes early. Looking at these two fighters, Nunes has fought more often and improved more and I think she gets a finish this time around.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes via TKO Round 2