-250 #6 Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. +175 Jim Miller (28-9)
Anthony Pettis: Former UFC/WEC Lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis had a very rough outing in his last trip to the octagon. Pettis was scheduled to fight for the Interim Featherweight title against Max Hollaway but failed to make weight and lost the title opportunity. The fight did not go much better than the weight cut, Hollaway became the first man to finish Pettis, stopping the former champ with strikes in the third round.
After 2 fights at Featherweight Pettis will return to his better suited Lightweight division in this match up. In a unfamiliar situation Pettis will be forced to prove he still belongs at the top of the division after losing 4 of his last 5 bouts. The longtime Roufussport fighter has already secured his legacy as one of the best Lightweights to set foot in the cage, but at 30 years old Pettis will be looking to make the second part of his career better than the first.
Jim Miller: New Jersey blue collar scrapper Jim “A-10” Miller put on a fight of the night masterpiece against Dustin Poirier at UFC 208. Miller and Poirier threw down for 3 back and forth rounds, but it was Porier who was ultimately awarded the majority decision.
The 33 year old Miller has been a contender in the UFC’s Lightweight division for the last 9 years. A fighter’s fighter he has always been a no frills guy who leaves it all in the ring. The quintessential gatekeeper the past few years a win over Pettis would place Miller back in to contender status and may be the catalyst of a late career title run.
The Fight: All of Pettis’s recent losses have come against elite strikers. Miller will not be a threat to Pettis on the feet which will allow him to focus on stuffing take downs and setting up his flashy strikes. Miller will shoot for a take down after eating significant damage on the feet and fall right into Pettis’s air tight squeeze. Pettis Guillotine 2nd
EVEN #1 Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs. -130 #3 Alistair Overeem (42-15)
Fabricio Werdum: Former Heavyweight champion Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum looked to be back in top form in his first fight since losing his title to Stipe Miocic in May of last year. Werdum defeated Travis Browne by unanimous decision out striking the 6’6″ hapa Hawaiian over 3 rounds.
At 39 the PRIDE star is one fight away from redeeming himself from his very un-Fabricio like performance against Stipe Miocic where he lost his belt. Werdum has had immense growth as a striker since he began trining with the KINGS MMA fight team, but he would be smart to ride the “Go Horse” that brought him here. Werdum has a significant BJJ advantage over the rest of the top guys in the division. If he reverts back to a ground focused attack it would be his best shot at regaining the belt.
Alistair Overeem: Former K-1, DREAM and Strikeforce champion Alistair “The Reem” Overeem defeated Mark Hunt in his first fight since a failed title challenge at UFC 203. Overeem flattened the concrete headed Hunt with an “Uberknee” despite being in the hospital for food poisoning 24 hours before the fight.
Alistair resumed his training with his core training group of Joakim Enberg, Benjey Zimmerman and Azad Soufi for this fight, but also brought in former opponent and current Bellator fighter Sergi Kharatonov to help him prep. His more calculated, precision striking attack gives him the highest probability of landing hard shots while taking a limited amount of damage. A win would mean a rematch against Stipe Miocic who Alistair was seconds away from finishing.
The Fight: Werdum won the first fight in PRIDE via a Kimura from the bottom. Overeem won the second fight in Strikeforce via intimidation and now we will finally get a resolution to this pairing. Werdum’s newly formed confidence in his striking abilites will be his undoing in this fight. Alistair will get the finish in an early exchange to earn his way back to a title fight. Overeem Knockout 1st
+475 #15 Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1) vs. -750 Curtis Blaydes (7-1)
Daniel Omielanczuk: Polish punisher Daniel Omeilanczuk dropped his second straight fight in the octagon losing a split decision to Timothy Johnson at Fight Night 107 in March. The grizzled American Wrestler eked out Omielanczuk in a razor close decision.
Omielanczuk’s UFC bouts up to this point have been mainly back and forth striking affairs in which the hulking heavyweight thrives. In his fights prior to the octagon Omielanczuk collected nine submission victories on the Eastern European circuit and while the 9 subs are impressive they were mostly overpowering holds on mismatched opponents. Make no mistake if Omielnaczuk is in the octagon he is going to be swinging for the fences.
Curtis Blaydes: Former Junior College All-American wrestler Curtis Blaydes had his dominant victory over Adam Milstead overturned to a no contest after he tested positive for marijuana. Blaydes was ragdolling Milstead for a round and a half before Milstead sustained a injury to his knee, however it was all for not due to the Denver residents extracurricular activities.
Blaydes is still very young in the sport, only a pro for 3 years, he has immense potential and his move to Team Elevation to train under Trevor Whitman and Leister Bowling may be the piece needed to elevate him to the next level. The 26 year old is one of the premier young talents in the sport and we highlighted his potential in this article from January. The New Breed: Top Fighters 26 Years Old And Younger In Every UFC Weight Class
The Fight: Blaydes improved striking will keep Omeilanczuk honest, but don’t expect Blaydes to trade for any extended period of time. Blaydes will take this in a one sided affair. Blaydes Unanimous Decision
-115 #1 Yoel Romero (12-1) vs. -115 Robert Whittaker (19-4)
Middleweight Interim Title (185)
Yoel Romero: Cuban Olympic Wrestler Yoel “Soldier Of God” Romero will finally get his long awaited title shot following his win over Chris Weidman at UFC 205. Romero stuffed most of Weidman’s take down attempts before landing a devastating flying knee that brought an end to the former champion’s night.
40 year old Romero has been victorious in everyone of his 8 UFC bouts dating back to 2013. The American Top Team fighter was prepared to patiently wait for the winner of Bisping vs. GSP, but after that fight was put on hold for an undetermined amount of time Yoel was rewarded this interim title shot. If he can come away victorious a unification bout against the winner of Bisping vs. GSP would hopefully occur later this year.
Robert Whittaker: TUF: Smashes champion Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker will return to the octagon just 2 months after his massive upset of Jacare Souza this past April. Whittaker shocked the world when he knocked out the BJJ legend and punched his ticket to this interim title fight.
Whittaker has made an unprecedented transformation following his move up to Middleweight. The young Aussie was an underwhelming 3-2 at Welterweight, since his move to Middleweight he has gone 6-0 with 4 knockout of the night bonuses. A walking advertisement for not making drastic weight cuts Whittaker is now in position to become one of the youngest UFC champions and the first Australian to capture UFC gold.
The Fight: Whittaker has never faced a Wrestler on Romero’s caliber, but he has looked invincible as of late. Romero will come out on fire and look to get the early finish. As the fight progresses Romero’s explosiveness will fade and the 26 year old Whittaker will turn up the heat in the late rounds to pick up the interim strap. Whittaker TKO 4th
-115 C Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs. -115 #1 Valentina Shevchenko (14-2)
Bantamweight Title (135)
Amanda Nunes: Undisputed Womens Bantamweight champion Amanda “Lioness” Nunes was as dominant as you can get in her first round knock out of former champ Ronda Rousey. Rousey was dumbfounded by Nunes’s power, she unleashed a barrage of blows and finished Rousey in 0:48 into the fight.
29 year old Nunes began training with American Top Team in 2014 following a loss to Cat Zingano. Since the move Nunes has been untouchable 4-0 with 3 finishes and Bantamweight title confirm the move to Florida was the right one. Rousey’s 6 title defenses were thought to be unreachable, but if Nunes maintains her current form it will be a very attainable goal for the Lioness.
Valentina Shevchenko: Number one contender Valentina “Bullit” Shevchenko earned this title shot by submitting rising star Juliana Pena with an armbar in the second round. Thought by many to be mainly a striker the former Muay Thai champ showed she is a full fledged mixed martial artist with the Fedor like belly down armbar finish.
Since committing to MMA full time in 2015 Shevchenko has beaten a whose who of women’s MMA including Holly Holm, Sarah Kaufman and the aforementioned Juliana Pena. The Kyrgyzstan native has become a complete fighter under the guidance of longtime coach Pavel Fedotov, as well as spending extended periods of time at Thailand’s Tiger Muay Thai. At 29 Shevchenko will be peaking as a fighter over the next few years and her ceiling in the sport is limitless.
The Fight: The first time these two met Nunes won the first 2 rounds with top position and ground and pound. Shevchenko won the third with an early standing elbow that stunned Nunes and set the tone for the entire round. Nunez won the first fight but the tide appeared to be turning and the outcome may have been different if it was a 5 rounder. Shevchenko starts slow which is fatal in a 3 round fight, but with the full 5 rounds Shevchenko will make adjustments through out to stay on her feet and out strike the champ to capture the Bantamweight title. Shevchenko Unanimous Decision