The UFC always likes to stage a big card around the July 4 holiday on what it calls International Fight Week. On Saturday, it’s UFC 213 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – the same location Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor will fight from next month – headlined by a women’s bantamweight title fight and rematch between champion Amanda Nunes and No. 1 challenger Valentina Shevchenko.
Nunes, from Brazil, opened as high as a -146 favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com but now is a slight -110 underdog. The “Lioness” is 14-4 with 10 wins by knockout or TKO. She was last in the Octagon in December at UFC 207 and dominated former women’s world pound-for-pound queen Ronda Rousey by first-round TKO. That essentially ended Rousey’s career. Nunes was a +130 underdog there.
That was the fifth straight win for Nunes. That includes a unanimous-decision victory over Shevchenko in March 2016 in a non-title fight. Nunes controlled that fight early, but Shevchenko clearly won the final round. That fight was only three rounds – this is five because it’s for a belt.
This bout also comes almost a year to the day when Nunes won the bantamweight title (135 pounds) with a first-round submission of Miesha Tate at UFC 200. Nunes has talked about jumping up to 145 pounds with a victory here. That title is currently vacant after it was stripped from Germaine de Randamie.
Shevchenko (14-2) is 2-0 since losing to Nunes. “Bullet” beat Holly Holm by unanimous decision last July and then took out Julianna Pena in January by second-round submission. The majority of Shevchenko’s wins (43 percent) are by submission. She is now the -125 betting favorite vs. Nunes despite giving up two inches of reach and three in height. The first fight went off with Shevchenko also slightly favored.
The co-main event features an interim middleweight championship fight between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker.
Michael Bisping is the current heavyweight champion. He was scheduled to fight MMA legend Georges St-Pierre in GSP’s comeback bout, but it was scrapped due to injuries on both sides. So UFC president Dana White decided to create an interim 185-pound title because of Bisping’s knee problem and the fact he hasn’t fought since October.
Romero (12-1) is the No. 1 contender in the division but a +105 betting underdog. Romero won his eighth straight fight last November by third-round knockout of Chris Weidman as a +150 underdog. Whittaker (18-4), the No. 3 contender, is priced at -135. He is on a seven-fight winning streak after taking out Ronaldo Souza by second-round TKO in April.
White has stated that Bisping will take on Saturday’s winner later this year.