UFC Fight Night 43 Play: Mike “Biggie” Rhodes (+250) vs Robert Whittaker (-300)

mike rhodesUFC Fight Night 43 Date: June 28, 2014 Arena: Vector Arena City: Auckland, New Zealand Welterweight bout: Mike “Biggie” Rhodes (+250) vs Robert Whittaker (-300) Fight Breakdown: Getting the main card action going for UFC Fight Night 43 in New Zealand will be a scrap between two of the youngest welterweights in the division. Action is expected when Iowa native Mike “Biggie” Rhodes takes on New Zealand’s very own Robert Whittaker. Rhodes is a big underdog in this contest at +250 ($250 to win $100), with Whittaker being a heavy betting favorite at -300 ($300 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Mike “Biggie” Rhodes (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is a basketball player turned mixed martial artist who is coming off a unanimous decision loss against George Sullivan in what was the promotional debut for both fighters, not to mention on very short notice. Now with five months away from the cage, he has a tough task ahead of him in taking a long flight to enemy territory to look for his first Octagon victory, knowing another defeat could mean his release from the promotion. A cousin of UFC veteran Mike van Arsdale, “Biggie” is a well-conditioned and durable fighter who has great footwork and excellent counters. He is fast, powerful, and very athletic. He is a talented striker who works great knees and some nice kicks, including a beautiful side kick. While he started off as a striker, he has begun to hone his wrestling game, thanks to all the hours he has put in the gym with Ben Askren. Training out of Roufusport in Milwaukee, WI, under the tutelage of Duke Roufus, Rhodes trains with some of the best strikers and wrestlers in all of mixed martial arts. He works the top position well on the mat, but he is not very active with his ground and pound, especially when his opponent is being active from the bottom. He faints well, and uses the threat of his takedowns to take advantage of his opponents on the feet. I think he will be looking to implement his grappling advantage in this match-up and take Whittaker down to the mat, as well as beat him against the cage. Robert Whittaker (11-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is coming off a first round TKO loss against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson at UFC 170 nearly four months ago, and it marked the first T/KO defeat of his professional mixed martial arts career. Despite being finished by Thompson and getting dropped by Court McGee in the fight before that. Back to back losses to McGee and Thompson have put Whittaker on a two fight skid and he potentially has his back against the wall going into this one. If that isn’t pressure enough, he is also fighting in front of his hometown crowd on the UFC’s first ever card in New Zealand. The 23-year old is a talented orthodox striker from a Karate background. The TUF: Smashes winner has an excellent lead jab and a solid left hook, as well as a great right jab to left hook combination. He puts together some nice 1-2 combinations on the feet and employs kicks in his striking attack, as well, including a right high kick. That said, he prefers to use his hands, and often keeps his left hand down to bait opponents in, so he can catch them with his right, which worked successfully against Colton Smith. Whittaker is a capable grappler with a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but he prefers to keep things on the feet. He does a good job of that, too, as he possesses very good takedown defense. Training out of the TriStar Gym in Montreal under the tutelage on Firas Zahabi, the New Zealand native has great conditioning and will be ready for a three-round affair come Saturday. Gabe’s Thoughts: I think the lines for this fight are completely off. Rhodes did not have a good debut, but I believe he is a much better fighter than that. While I think Whittaker is solid, I feel Rhodes is the superior mixed martial artist. I think he is going to use this opportunity to really showcase his skills and pick up his first UFC win in a hometown upset. I feel confident that Rhodes will get the better of Whittaker, but I think there is a chance that Whittaker can make it a close fight and steal a hometown decision. I think there is value in the ‘over’ but there is a world of value in Rhodes at +250, as I think he should be the favorite in this bout. Gabe’s Call: “Biggie” by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Rhodes (+250) 5u to win 12.5u

Written by Gabe Killian

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