UFC 215 Preview & Tips
The Octagon returns to Canada for the 2nd time in 2017. The brand new Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta was supposed to play host to two title fights and the biggest card of the year but with Borg pulling out that will not be the case. It leaves Nunes and Shevcheko the headline the card and after Nunes pulled the pin when they were scheduled to meet a month or so ago you can be sure that Dana White and the UFC are very nervous…
Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
Nunes v Shevchenko is an incredible matchup in the always improving 135 pound female division. The power and ferociousness that Nunes holds, is one to fear greatly. All of us saw her total domination of Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 last year, but the Wolf likes her performance against Miesha Tate at UFC 200 even more so. The total beat down solidified Nunes as one of the baddest women on the planet paving the way for her championship reign. Her conditioning will be called into play against Shevchenko, who is a champion in her own mine, possessing an impressive kickboxing record of 56-2; Valentina is no stranger to a scrap.
Their previous bout at UFC 196 which saw Nunes pick-up the Unanimous Decision victory was one for the ages. With Nunes clearly winning the first 2 rounds, Shevchenko crawled her way back with a very impressive third round, to which some people gave a 10-8. The main story of that fight for Nunes, was the pressure she put on Shevchenko. Her physical presence and heavy hands troubled the challenger, controlling the tempo for most of that fight. The lioness must come out strong and impose her will on Valentina, press her up against the cage, take her down and use that world class jiu-jitsu game. For Shevchenko in this fight it’s about keeping her distance and avoiding big shots in the early rounds – that is where the champion is most dangerous. Valentina is fantastic at mixing up her shots, effective with both punching speed and kicking power. The last round of their previous was the most telling. Can Nunes sustain that pressure and finish the challenger? Can the challenger withstand the force of the champion? Sunday we find out. The Wolf sees this going down to the wire, with Nunes winning the early rounds and Shevchenko coming back late. Shevchenko by Split Decision.
Best: Over 2.5 rounds ($1.71)
Value: Shevchenko WIN ($1.80)
Neil Magny vs Rafael Dos Anjos
Dos Anjos will be looking to get his career back on track in this fight, along solidifying himself as a top 10 welterweight contender. The former lightweight champion is known for his traditionally aggressive Brazilian style fighting, combining high level Muay Thai with constant pressure and a good ground game. Dos Anjos has only ever lost to top flight competition which makes this matchup so interesting. Magny, who possess an incredible reach for a 170 pounder of 80 inches, has a considerably different fighting style to Rafael. He fights very long and rarely exerts more energy than needed. A wrestler by trade, Magny is very good at using his grappling to keep opponents off him or take them to the ground. He must be smart and keep his hands high in this one. Similar to the Nunes v Shevchenko fight, Neil needs to allow Dos Anjos to expend energy and capitalise on opportunities presented. The Wolf believes this tactic will give him the best chance of victory. Stylistically this matchup is mouth-watering; both men are very skilled and need a win to further their claims for title contention. The winner of this presents themselves as a real threat in the stacked 170 pound division. This is a real toss up but with Dos Anjos on a decline and Mendy on the up The Wolf is leaning towards the latter!
Best: Neil Magny WIN ($2.60)
Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro
With Mark Hunts form in the Heavyweights and Robert Whittaker’s recent title victory, Australian mixed martial arts has never been bigger. Tyson Pedro is the next Australian fighter to mix it in the big league. Holding a professional record of 6-0 all by first round stoppage, Pedro has taken the MMA world by storm with crisp technique and brutal power. His domination of Paul Craig at UFC 209, showed the world the crushing power and skill level of the Aussie born fighter. Taking on Pedro is 8 fight UFC vet, Ilir Latifi. Swedish born fighter is no stranger to a brawl with impressive KO victories over Chris Dempsey and Sean O’Connell. Latifi has a no nonsense style of fighting with 8 1st round finishes to his name. Both men will be looking to finish the fight early, expect fireworks in this one. For Pedro we must see patience in this bout, this is by far the toughest test of his career and underestimating his opponent will end with the lights turned out. Both men will be confident in their finishing ability and therefore the Wolf believes this will be fight of the night.
If Pedro keeps composed, I see a late finish coming his way. The Aussie to continue making noise in the UFC!
Best: Pedro WIN ($1.80)
Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez:
The 1st fight on the main card is going to be a good old fashioned slobber knocker. These men have 67 professional MMA bouts between them and neither of them have had a boring fight. Jeremy “Little Heathen” Stephens a veteran of 25 UFC fights is notorious in MMA circles for his hard and exciting fighting style. Possessing impressive power for a 145er, Stephens has been a perennial contender for as long as he has been in the UFC. With wins over former champions such as; Raphael Dos Anjos and Renan Barao, Little Heathen is a threat to any man he fights. His heart, work ethic and determination have made him a hard man to finish. For every loss he has had, Stephens seems to come back stronger each time. Only being finished by KO once, look for Jeremy to fight until the end of the 3rd round. For Gilbert Melendez the big question is, does he still have it in him? The former Strike force and WEC champion, Melendez is considered universally to be one of the best lightweights to never win a UFC belt. He is extremely well rounded and possesses that “Mexican” style of fighting. You won’t rarely see him quit and like his opponent brings it each and every time he fights. Having only fought 3 times in the past 4 years has many people questioning the likelihood of victory. Melendez must use his superior grappling against Little Heathen, who has shown a slight weakness in that department. This fight will come down to who wants it more! The Wolf knows styles make fights and this one should be chaos.
Best: Over 2.5 rounds ($1.42)
Value: Melendez WIN ($1.93)
Look for all fighters to come out with aggressive intent, after the attention that MayMac garnered. The UFC needs this event to start the ball rolling for what looks like an incredible end to 2017!