The opening main card bout at UFC Fight Night 43 is a three-round welterweight bout between Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker and Mike “Biggie” Rhodes. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Whittaker as a -300 favorite (bet $300 to win $100) while Rhodes is a +250 underdog (bet $100 to win $250). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Whittaker at -245 and Rhodes at +175, and so far the public has come in on the hometown favorite Whittaker. I agree with the action in Whittaker’s direction as I see him winning this bout. Here’s why. Whittaker (11-4) won TUF Smashes and at only 23 years of age is one of the top prospects in the UFC welterweight division. He is so far 2-2 in the UFC with wins over Brad Scott and Colton Smith and losses to Court McGee and Stephen Thompson, although the loss to McGee was very competitive. Whittaker is an excellent striker with excellent boxing and big-time knockout power in his hands. He also has an underrated ground game. His biggest issue so far in the UFC has been both his chin and also his activity level, which are the reasons why he lost to Thompson and McGee, respectively. However, he’s a very young guy and is rapidly improving and for sure can turn things around and snap his two-fight losing streak. Although he is on a cold streak coming into this fight against Rhodes, he is fighting in New Zealand and with the hometown crowd behind him he should be motivated get back in the win column in impressive fashion, and the betting public seems to think so too as he enters the bout as a big favorite. Rhodes (6-2) is another top prospect in the UFC welterweight division. The 24-year-old American is a solid striker just like Whittaker is and he should make for a game and solid opponent for the hometown hero here. A member of Roufusport, Rhodes is a stud kickboxer and showed off his striking skills in his UFC debut against George Sullivan. But his cardio was poor in that fight and it cost him as he ended up losing a decision, although it should be kept in mind he took the fight on short notice. He has only been competing in MMA for a few years so I expect him to improve every fight, but I did not like how he performed against a journeyman like Sullivan and figure a talented youngster like Whittaker should give him all sorts of problems if Sullivan was able to. Although Rhodes could show up and be a much more improved version of the fighter we saw at UFC on FOX 10, his opponent could be as well and until we see Rhodes excel in the Octagon it’s hard to back him against someone of Whittaker’s caliber, and that’s why he’s the underdog heading into this fight. I see a very exciting striking battle between these two youngsters, but I think Whittaker is just a bit more crisper and a bit more powerful and with the hometown fans cheering him on I see him outstriking Rhodes en route to a decision victory or possibly a knockout win. Although the striking may be competitive and you never know with the judges, I still think this is a favorite or pass situation and I have to go with Whtitaker for the win here. At -300 I think Whittaker could be worth putting into a two-team parlay but I would wait until fight day because it’s possible some action comes in on Rhodes and you can get Whittaker at a better number. But either way I think it’s favorite or pass.