UFC 215 PREVIEW: Harris’s preview & predictions for Nunes vs. Shevchenko, Magny vs. Dos Anjos, Latifi vs. Pedro, Stephens vs. Melendez

BY JOHN HARRIS, MMATorch Contributor

After an exciting lineup on UFC fight pass this past Saturday, the UFC returns to PPV with UFC 215 from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The card will be headlined by women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes taking on Valentina Shevchenko. The main event should be action packed to go along with a great under card of veterans looking to make their way back to the top.


Main Card

Amanada Nunes (14-4) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (14-2) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

This fight was supposed to be the main event of UFC 213 but Amanada Nunes pulled out a the last second. Let’s hope that does not happen again as I’m really intrigued by this fight. Valentina Shevchenko will be looking to avenge her 2016 loss to Nunes, but this time it will be for the Women’s Bantamweight title. Both women have improved since their first meeting. Nunes defeated Meisha Tate to win the title, and then defeated the biggest star in the history of women’s MMA, Ronda Rousey. Shevchenko‘s resume may not be as flashy but she has a sold win over  Juilanna Pena and defeated one of the best in the world in Holly Holm.

Shevchenko has a very balanced game. She was able to out point Holm and then submit one of the divison’s best grapplers in Pena. Nunes has the most power in her hands of any woman not named Cris Cyborg. Nunes will most likely be extremely aggressive and look to finish Shevchenko early. Shevchenko is more of a counter striker who is known for being very durable. She took a nasty elbow from Nunes in their first fight that left her with a deep cut but manged to stay in the fight. Shevchenko will look to survive the early onslaught from Nunes and out point her in the later rounds. This will be Nunes’ toughest fight to date and should be one of the most competitive women’s bantamweight title fight’s we have seen in the UFC.

 The Pick: Nunes by TKO in the 3rd round

Neil Magny (19-6) vs. Rafael Dos Anjos (26-9) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

This fight should really show where both fighters stand in the welterweight division. Rafael Dos Anjos made his UFC welterweight debut with a win over Tarec Saffiedine in June. Neil Magny has won 4 of his last 5 including wins over Johnnny Hendricks, Kelvin Gastelum  and Hector Lombard. Magny will have a six inch height advantage that he should be able to use to keep Dos Anjos off him while avoiding his knockout power.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Dos Anjos will look to get inside and land hard strikes in the clinch and shoot for the takedown. If Dos Anjos can close the gap and take Magny down it could be a long night for Magny. This is an interesting fight style wise that could be the fight of the night.

The Pick: Magny by decision

Ilir Latifi (13-5) vs. Tyson Pedro (6-0) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.

llir Latifi is a veteran fighter with devastating knockout power. Tyson Pedro is undefeated in his short MMA career with a record of 6-0. This fight should give us a good read on where the Australian, Pedro stands in the light heavyweight division. This fight against Latifi will be by far the biggest of his young career. Latifi is  known for being a brawler who loves to get inside and land big shots.

Pedro will need to use his height and reach advantage to keep Latifi from doing just that. Pedro is very skilled on the ground with 4 of his 6 wins coming by submisssion. However, Pedro would be playing a dangerous game if he allows Latifi to put him on his back. Latifi is much stronger and could end the fight quickly with some hard shots from the mount or guard position.

The Pick: Latifi by TKO in the 2nd round

Jeremy Stephens (25-13) vs. Gilbert Melendez (22-6) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Former UFC and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will fight in the featherweight division for the first time since 2005. Melendez has lost four out of his last five, although it was against top tier competition including three former UFC lightweight champions. He will not be facing a former champion in his UFC featherweight debut, but Jeremy Stephens is no pushover. Stephens has fought some of the best in the world at both lightweight and welterweight including, Renan Barao, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway and Donald Cerrone among others. He has never been able to beat the best, but always gave them a tough night.

Melendez will have to avoid the one shot KO power that Stephens can deliver. Melendez will look to get the fight to the ground and keep Stephens there with hard shots from the top. Both men have clearly lost a step but this still should be an exciting fight as neither man is known for being one to shy away from an all out brawl. I’ll be interested to see how Melendez handles the weight cut to 145 for the first time in over ten years.

The Pick: Stephens via TKO in the 3rd round

NOW CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE: HEYDORN’S TAKE: The UFC’s arrogance towards Demetrious Johnson and UFC 215 leaves money on the table and a shadow over their history


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