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MMA Fight: UFC 213 Main Card
Key Matches: Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem III and Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone
When: Saturday, July 8, 2017
Time: 9:00PM EST
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: PPV

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Fabricio Werdum, (+115), 21-6-1 (6 KOs, 10 Submissions) vs. Alistair Overeem, (-135), 42-15 (19 KOs, 19 Submissions)

In a battle of illustrious heavyweights, ex-heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum takes on noted contender Alistair Overeem in a rubber match in UFC 213. Werdum, who lost his championship to Stipe Miocic last year, looks for his second straight win after beating Travis Browne in his last fight this past September. Unable to book a rematch with the champ, he now needs to go through the dangerous Overeem to get that rematch. Meanwhile, Overeem is coming off a nice win over Mark Hunt, which followed an unsuccessful title try when he was KO'd by Miocic last September. The stakes are high for two fighters who can't afford a setback at this late stage.

These two are familiar with each other, having fought twice, last in a Strikeforce fight back in 2011. Overeem was able to win a decision in that one, one of the few times he won a fight in that manner, with most of his wins coming by stoppage. But Werdum was able to beat Overeem back in 2006 in a Pride fight with a kimura submission. This is the rubber match with each man holding one win in this rivalry. Overeem's record shows he can win a fight in a lot of different ways—boasting of 19 KO wins and 19 submission wins. When it comes to mileage, Overeem has a ton of it. The 37-year old has been through the ringer after a long MMA career and some tough kickboxing matches thrown into the mix. But he's still viable, not something a lot of fighters can say after suffering ten KO losses in MMA fights and several more in high-level kickboxing matches.

Werdum is older at 39, but with less overall wear-and-tear. An uncharacteristic careless maneuver led to his title loss to Miocic last year. But against Browne, he showed he still has some fight left in him. In fact, it's a little curious that he's being forced to beat more contenders before getting a rematch at the belt, considering his resume. At the end of the day, there aren't many heavyweights who can compete with his accomplishments, as Werdum has beaten a who's-who of top heavyweights in the sport—Overeem, Fedor, Nogueira, Velasquez, and many more.

Offensively, Overeem is one of biggest handfuls to ever grace a ring or octagon. But in fights of this nature, reliability counts for a lot. And Werdum just seems like the more-bankable fighter at this point in terms of holding up over the course of a draining and difficult fight. Again, Overeem's offensive prowess makes it so you can never bet against him with an overly-clear head. But no bet is made without concerns.

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I see Werdum as having aged better. The only recent slip-up was the result of careless move against Miocic when he got clipped with something he didn't see. Werdum's recent failings are less a result of happenstance and more a result of questionable durability and poor fighting tactics. He's become more thoughtful over time, but he's still the same Overeem—brilliant in spots and wholly undependable in others. I find the odds to be curious in this fight and that's usually not the case. But it's hard for the eyebrows to not rise slightly when you see Overeem is a -135 favorite. I think Werdum should be favored and I'm going to take him in the underdog role. It's not a bet made with the clearest of minds, but from a value-standpoint, it's the sound move.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Fabricio Werdum at +115.

Robbie Lawler, (-145), 27-11 (20 KOs, 1 Submission) vs. Donald Cerrone, (+125), 32-8 (6 KOs, 16 Submissions)

In welterweight action, former UFC champ Robbie Lawler takes on perennial contender Donald Cerrone on the main card of UFC 213. It's a crossroads fight between two high-profile 170-pounders. The winner has a future and perhaps a title shot. The loser goes further back in the welterweight pack and with both fighters on the back-nine of long and taxing careers, a loss here would be very costly. Who can pull through and score a big win in this fight?

Not to imply that Lawler hasn't been through the ringer because he has. For him to execute his unlikely run from welterweight afterthought to UFC champion, he had to walk a hard road with a lot of wars and punishment. But the case of Donald Cerrone as it pertains to wear-and-tear might be the more compelling situation. Since the start of 2015, Cerrone has partaken in nine UFC fights, while Lawler has fought just three times in that span. Since 2013, Cerrone has fought in 17 fights at the highest level of the sport. That adds up. There seemed to be a staleness to Cerrone when he lost to Jorge Masvidal in his last fight in January. While 6 months seems like a realistic break from the action, is there a chance that the battles and activity have started catching up with the 34-year old?

On one hand, Cerrone seemed reborn after rising to 170. He was on a nice little unbeaten streak before running into the underrated Masvidal. So you don't want to base a theory of Cerrone winding down based on one loss. You look at his opponent and need to look no further for a prime example of what can happen when you prematurely write off a fighter. But the recent high mileage that Cerrone has put on his MMA odometer is a realistic concern heading into this fight.

By the time Lawler climbs into the cage for this fight, he will have been out for nearly a year. In his last fight, he was relieved of his welterweight belt by Tyron Woodley via first-round stoppage. That followed one of the more unlikely rises in the history of the sport. Some might forget how low Lawler had gotten, losing five of eight fights before the UFC absorbed Strikeforce. On thin ice, Lawler rattled off an inspired win-streak, beating some of the top 170-pounders around during his unfathomable rise to the top. Two wins over Rory MacDonald, and close decisions over Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit showed he belonged at the peak.

If we're going to scrutinize Cerrone, it's only fair to turn some attention to Lawler and appraise where he stands in 2017. After overcoming all those defeats to orchestrate a passionate rise to the top of the 170-pound division, does he have it in him to make another run at 35? Lawler first joined the UFC back in the "dark days," making his first appearance just after his 20th birthday back in 2002. But as we see with this fight, it's not so much about talent as it is about where both men stand in their evolution as fighters. And to assume both men's best fighting is in their rearview mirrors might be accurate.

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That doesn't mean it won't be a high-level and entertaining fight. Both men have traits that play well of each other, as each man has a realistic path to victory. Lawler still flaunts toughness and some of the heaviest hands in the history of the UFC welterweight class. Cerrone might not have the same power in his hands, but he's a more-diverse and technical striker, also boasting of 16 submission wins, as opposed to just one for Lawler. This is a tough call and I think it's fair to look at this fight as a toss-up, of sorts. In cases like that, I'm inclined to take the underdog. I'm going with Donald Cerrone.

Loot's Prediction to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Donald Cerrone at +125.

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