UFC 197 Play: Robert Whittaker (-330) vs Rafael “Sapo” Natal (+270)

Rafael Natal ufcDate: April 23, 2016 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Middleweight bout: Robert Whittaker (-330) vs Rafael “Sapo” Natal (+270) Fight Breakdown: The UFC 197 main card on Pay Per View will be presenting a match-up in the 185-pound division between Australian Robert Whittaker and the Brazilian Rafael “Sapo” Natal, with Whittaker being favored to win at -330 ($330 to win $100) and Natal being the betting underdog at +270 ($100 to win $270) 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Robert Whittaker (15-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is riding an impressive four fight winning streak inside the Octagon that includes two finishes and he will be looking to extend that winning streak to five against the Brazilian on Saturday night. Whittaker is a tremendously talented striker and he he is very fun to watch. He fights with a bit of a flashy unorthodox Karate style that keeps opponents guessing. The down-side of said style is that he keeps his hands down, leaving him open to a possible knockout, which was the case against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Despite the lack of keeping his hands up, he has decent striking defense. The 25-year old has good takedown defense, good submission defense, and can generally manage his own on the ground, although he does not offer much of a submission threat. He will be at a disadvantage on the mat heading into this contest against Natal, so he will be looking to keep things on the feet at all costs. Generally a well-conditioned athlete, I expect Whittaker to have enough gas in the tank for a full three rounds of action, should the judges’ need to have a say in the outcome. Rafael “Sapo” Natal (21-6-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) is riding a four fight winning streak inside the Octagon and is coming off an impressive third round TKO victory over Kevin Casey. “Sapo” is a talented grappler who works great takedowns. He is very slick on the mat and has a nice submission game, owning a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Vinny Magalhaes. Natal has been making improvements in his striking, as has been evident in recent outings inside the Octagon. He appears to have also made an improvement in cardio, so I expect him to be able go hard for a full 15-minutes of action against Whittaker, should this fight hit the judges’ scorecards for a decision. At 33 years of age, the Bazilian appears to be in his prime and will be looking to make a statement against the 25-year-old Australian this Saturday night in Las Vegas. Gabe’s Call: Natal by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) Gabe’s Thoughts: I think the betting odds for this middleweight contest are way off and I see tremendous value in Natal at his current underdog tag of +270. I see his advantages in size and strength as being key factors in him getting his hand raised on Saturday night, as I think he will manage to outmuscle and control Whittaker on the mat using his superior Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game for the majority of 15-minutes en route to a unanimous decision victory on the judges’ scorecards. Gabe’s Recommended Plays: Natal (+270) 4u to win 10.8u

Written by Gabe Killian

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