UFC 213 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Romero vs. Whittaker Card
Well, this was an interesting one.
Hours before UFC 213 was set to go down in Las Vegas, one half of the evening's main event, women's bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes, was confirmed out of her bout with Valentina Shevchenko.
Nunes was hospitalized with undefined illness and ruled out of the contest, leaving a charismatic challenger in Shevchenko without a dance partner and moving the co-main event between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker into the prime slot.
So here we are. Without a potentially great champion in Nunes to headline the card, would UFC 213 survive? It's an especially pertinent question when you remember this card also lost Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw and Donald Cerrone vs. Robbie Lawler.
As always, the final stat lines don't reveal everything. These are the real winners and losers from July 8 in Las Vegas.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear at the end.
Winner: Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker is your new UFC interim middleweight champion.
There were several close decisions Saturday night, and the main event might have been the closest. Whittaker gritted his way through an early leg injury to win the final three rounds and beat Yoel Romero by unanimous decision.
The injury came in the first round when the monstrous Romero kicked Whittaker's leg, causing it to hyperextend.
Whittaker was in obvious pain and favored the leg for the rest of the bout. Still, it was a low-action contest, especially after the musclebound Romero began to slow down. Whittaker found a way to land just enough offense to ease past Romero on the scorecards.
"It was unstable," Whittaker said of his knee when talking to broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight. "If he had got another good [kick], I would have dropped. It was bad. But champions are made of this stuff."
Up next for Whittaker? A date with lineal champ Michael Bisping, who came into the cage afterward to do his trash-talk thing and try to hype the fight. With Bisping now 38 years old and having faced weaker competition in recent years, Whittaker may be considered the opening favorite in that contest.
Loser: Valentina Shevchenko
Did Amanda Nunes want to fight? Of course she did.
At the same time, Valentina Shevchenko has a right to feel aggrieved. If Nunes was in the hospital as reported, she was in no shape to fight. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And Shevchenko, who trained extensively for this title fight—which doubled as a rematch of her only UFC defeat—was left holding the bag.
Accordingly, Shevchenko took to Instagram not long after the cancellation announcement. Her post states in part:
During the last 3 months of training I did everything to be in my best shape for this fight. Nunes couldn't cut weight correctly and was hospitalized. She wanted to cut weight and recover rapidly to have the advantage. The end result, everything went wrong. Even though she was medically cleared to fight, she backed out. This fight was originally offered to take place in April and she would not accept then. I did my part and am very upset that I can't fight for the title today on this great event.
None of this is her fault, and here's hoping the UFC took care of Shevchenko financially for preparing in every way for something that ultimately fell apart for reasons beyond her control.
And here's hoping the UFC rebooks this exciting title fight for a future event—and helps ensure it actually happens this time.
Winner: Alistair Overeem
Their third meeting might have been the strangest.
Fabricio Werdum defeated Alistair Overeem in their first meeting, which occurred in 2006 in Pride. Overeem took the second, which happened under the Strikeforce banner. In this third bout, there was precious little action, with each man appearing to wait for openings that never seemed to materialize, at least not with any frequency.
Overeem capitalized more often than Werdum, though, and that was enough for the judges. He landed a big right in the first that probably was the most exciting offense of that round, and he outlanded Werdum again in the second.
Werdum was wild for most of the bout, throwing unorthodox strikes that never really landed. He's also the more accomplished grappler between the two but never tried in earnest to initiate that phase of the game. The Brazilian came out with a sense of urgency in the third and probably won that round, but it wasn't enough to win the fight.
Some observers on Twitter saw the judges' nod to Overeem as an unfair or inaccurate decision. But with so little output, it's hard to make that claim. Good on the Dutchman for doing more over 15 minutes, even if it wasn't the prettiest or most convincing affair.
Winner: Anthony Pettis
Welcome back to 155 pounds, Anthony Pettis.
After a relatively undistinguished two-fight run at featherweight last year, Pettis is back in the division where he won his UFC championship. He wasn't perfect against grizzled vet Jim Miller, but he still looked better than he has in quite a while.
Now unencumbered by a difficult cut to 145 pounds, Pettis looked as quick and strong as ever. Back too was his confidence, and that helped keep him from being pressured back against the fence while allowing him to work his creative striking game in space.
For the most part, Pettis staved off takedown attempts while landing big kicks to the head and body, along with more exotic moves like a spinning back elbow, a well-placed knee and even a flying kick at the end of the contest.
Pettis was fairly low-output on his feet and didn't exactly shine during the bout's short ground exchanges, but he still did enough to earn 30-27 scorecards from each of the three judges.
"I feel like myself," Pettis told Rogan in the cage after the fight. "That cut to 145 was no joke. No excuses."
No indeed. It will be interesting to see whom Pettis receives as his next opponent. Recent phenom Justin Gaethje has been mentioned as one potential foil. That matchup might contain some fisticuffs.
Loser: Travis Browne
It's now two wins in a row and four in five UFC contests for Oleksiy Oliynyk, the lightly regarded Ukrainian.
Things are less rosy for Travis Browne, who, for all his celebrity, has now dropped four in a row and five of six.
Browne was the aggressor early, spamming high kicks to Oliynyk's head. It was a punch that sent Oliynyk falling early, with Browne swarming to close the deal but not quite getting it done. The Ukrainian recovered and returned fire, dropping Browne with a right hand of his own.
In the second, they tied up early and hit the mat. Oliynyk is a serious ground specialist, so this was his world. He went for a rear-naked choke that never settled in under Browne's chin but looked painful nonetheless. In fact, Browne tapped not long after it locked in.
Oliynyk was a substantial underdog in this fight, but he overcame those odds. Suddenly, the talent-deficient heavyweight division may have an interesting new name for its upper ranks. At a minimum, it looks like those ranks may have lost a name for good in Browne.
UFC 213 Full Card Results
Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero by unanimous decision
Fabricio Werdum def. Alistair Overeem by majority decision
Curtis Blaydes def. Daniel Omielanczuk by unanimous decision
Anthony Pettis def. Jim Miller by unanimous decision
Rob Font def. Douglas Silva de Andrade by submission (guillotine choke), 4:36, Rd. 2
Oleksiy Oliynyk def. Travis Browne by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:44, Rd. 2
Chad Laprise def. Brian Camozzi by TKO, 1:27, Rd. 3
Thiago Santos def. Gerald Meerschaert by TKO, 2:04, Rd. 2
Belal Muhammad def. Jordan Mein by unanimous decision
Cody Stamann def. Terrion Ware by unanimous decision
Trevin Giles def. James Bochnovic by KO, 2:54, Rd. 2