UFC 213 officially marks the beginning of a new era in the promotion's women's bantamweight division, one that notably lacks the star power that once brought it to the precipice of mainstream recognition in the earlier half of the decade. "I think we're seeing in that in the evolution of the current champ Amanda Nunes".
As such, the interim middleweight title fight between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker that was originally scheduled to feature as the co-main event will now be bumped up to serve as the main event of the evening. These two fighters first fought at UFC 196 in March of 2016.
With Bisping sidelined, Romero (12-1) - a 40-year-old Cuban with an eight-bout winning streak and an eye-popping physique even by MMA standards - will get his first UFC title shot against Whittaker (19-4), a New Zealand-born Australian who has won seven straight bouts. Nunes won by decision.
Shevchenko exposed this flaw in their first fight despite eventually coming out on the wrong side of the decision, coming on strong in the third and final round as Nunes visibly exhausted. But Nunes was little more than a footnote to Rousey's return from her first career loss.
"I'm not handsome, and I've accepted that", Nunes said.
Nunes has christened her rise as "The Era of the Lioness" and with her fearsome stand-up allied to impressive wrestling credentials and an explosive ground-and-pound game, it's easy to see why she could dominate the division for the foreseeable future.
Robert Whittaker:"I want to be known as one of the best fighters ever, so to walk that path, I have to fight the best and the baddest dudes in the world", via MMAJunkie. Shevchenko has secured takedowns in all four of her UFC fights. "I'm better than her and I'm going to wait for the best moment to finish the fight". It was billed and received as one of the biggest fights of the year, surpassing the elusive million-pay-per-view buys mark to cap what was one of the most successful years in company history. "It's very important to me to keep this belt". I was made for this.
Romero is the favorite to win and earn the interim UFC middleweight title.
Valentina Shevchenko:"The first fight was close". Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett told SN it would be too late to replace Nunes due to the card starting at 7 p.m. ET.