MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 24, a five-round middleweight bout between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. The event takes place on Saturday, April 17 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robert Whittaker (-260)
Whittaker (22-5) is the No. 1 contender in the UFC middleweight division. The 30-year-old Aussie is the former UFC middleweight champion and is 13-3 overall in the Octagon. He has defeated a number of the sport’s top middleweights over the years, including Yoel Romero twice, Jared Cannonier, Darren Till, Ronaldo, Souza, Derek Brunson, Uriah Hall, and Brad Tavares. That is an exceptional list of wins, and his only losses have come against Stephen Thompson, Israel Adesanya, and Court McGee. Whittaker is one of the top strikers in the division with a ton of knockout power in his hands and in his feet. He also has underrated grappling which allows him to keep his fights upright. In addition, he has really good cardio and tons of championship experience. There’s a lot to like about Whittaker and this fight with Gastelum will be interested to watch play out.
Kelvin Gastelum (+220)
Gastelum (16-6, 1 NC) is the No. 8 contender in the UFC middleweight division. The 29-year-old American is the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner and is 11-6, 1 NC overall in the UFC with notable wins over Micahel Bisping, Ronaldo Souza, Tim Kennedy, Johny Hendricks, Uriah Hall, and in his last fight, a dominant win over Ian Heinisch. He also has losses in the UFC to the likes of Neil Magny, Tyron Woodley, Jack Hermansson, Darren Till, Chris Weidman, and Israel Adesanya. Gastelum has made a career out of being a big puncher who has overcome being smaller for the middleweight division by packing a ton of power in his hands. I still would love to see him try and make the move back to welterweight at some point, but it feels like he doesn’t have the discipline to get his weight down. As good of a fighter as I think Gastelum is, I still feel like he’s fighting out of his weight class and that will always give me pause when he takes on elite fighters like Whittaker. Gastelum has a puncher’s chance to win this fight, but there’s a reason the odds are this high.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a great fight between two of the best middleweights in the UFC. In the end, though, I think Whittaker gets his hand raised once again. He has proven for years that he’s a well-rounded fighter with skills everywhere. This fight seems like it’s destined to go the distance and if that’s the case I will take the fighter with the better cardio every time, and that’s Whittaker. He has proven time and time again that he can go five hard rounds and put up a good fight. We know that Whittaker will fight for our money and give us an honest effort. My pick is Whittaker to win a decision over Gastelum in a striking battle that goes the full five rounds.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker