The UFC is back, live from the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event is a pair of Middleweight contenders, with former Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker continuing his climb back to UFC Gold, as he faces Kelvin Gastelum. The TUF 28 coaches finally will settle their score, as their previous matchup never took place – with Whittaker unfortunately pulling on the day of their fight. While both are at different points in their career from that original matchup, both remain staples and contenders in an ever growing division. This should be a good one!
UFC Vegas 24 Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum – I feel that this is Robert Whittaker’s fight to lose. No offense to Kelvin Gastelum, but Whittaker just holds too many advantage for me to believe that over five rounds he loses. For one, on the feet, Whittaker’s striking and distance management is going to allow him to get off first and land the better of the strikes. Wrestling goes to Gastelum, but Whittaker’s solid takedown defense neutralizes it. I mean, if Whittaker can hold off Yoel Romero to a mere seven takedowns on twenty eight attempts over fifty minutes – I don’t see Gastelum having much success. In the end, this fight takes place on the feet for the majority. And that alone aides Whittaker – who has time and time again stood toe to toe with the best strikers and more often than not, has beaten them. Add another win to Whittaker’s resurgence, as he wins via decision.
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Chase Sherman – Part of me believes that Andrei Arlovski wins this fight and the other part see’s father time and overall punishment catching up to him. While the last thing could be true, as his most two recent losses have come via finish – I’m not ready to write off Arlovski. I mean, he has two wins in 2020 over PFL Tournament winner Philipe Lins and the rising Canadian talent Tanner Boser. However, Chase Sherman has shown in his second UFC stint better striking abilities to go along with his power. That combo may be enough to take out Arlovski, but I’ll say it aides Sherman to a decision victory.
185 lbs.: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Jacob Malkoun – I understand that Abdul Razak Alhassan has suffered back-to-back upset losses, but the lack of experience of Jacob Malkoun combined with the power of Alhassan – gives me belief that this is a bounce back fight for the Ghanaian. So with that, give me Alhassan to win via knockout.
125 lbs.: Tracy Cortez vs. Justine Kish – While Justine Kish has proven time and time to be a tough out, her lack of takedown defense is going to put her at a serious disadvantage in this fight. Cortez has shown well rounded abilities, but her wrestling is what she banked on his her two UFC victories. Make it three, as Cortez’s wins via decision.
155 lbs.: Alexander Munoz vs. Luis Pena – This fight is a toss-up. Luis Pena is the better overall fighter, showing off good striking and a good submission game. However, his inability to stay upright and fend off takedowns has been his downfall. Given that Alexander Munoz is a wrestler, this will be a good test for Pena to see if his kryptonite continues to haunt him. In my opinion, it does. In a split decision, give me Munoz to win.
UFC Vegas 24 ‘Prelims’ Under Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Juan Espino vs. Alexandr Romanov – Juan Espino has looked dominant in his two UFC bouts. However, at 41 years of age, fighting these young and hungry fighters is going to catch up – especially against someone like Alexander Romanov. ‘King Kong’ has been nothing short of an alpha in the cage, showing off his well rounded abilities in each fight. While Espino holds an advantage should he be able to get this fight to the mat, I don’t see that happening. Romanov has shown to have a solid base and good takedown defense. On the feet, it’s all Romanov. Hitting foes at an 80% clip, albeit mostly via ground strikes, Romanov is a borderline sniper. The longer this fight goes too, the worst it gets for Espino. In the end, Romanov walks away with a TKO victory.
115 lbs.: Lupita Godinez vs. Jessica Penne – I wish I could say Jessica Penne wins this, but a four year layoff is just way too long for me to believe that she has evolved to the times. So with, give me Lupita Godinez to win via decision
185 lbs.: Bartosz Fabinski vs. Gerald Meerschaert – Bartosz Fabinski is a grinder and good one at that. Often shying away from striking, Fabinski has made a living on taking foes down and controlling them. What has been his crux however, is his submission defense. Of his four professional losses, three have come via submission. Against a submission wizard like Gerald Meerschaert, that porous submission defense will be tested. Considering Fabinski doesn’t offer much on the feet other than a winging punch, expect him to take Meerschaert down and proceed to get finished via… submission.
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Dakota Bush – I don’t know much about Dakota Bush other than he’s been fighting at LFA for some time. Given the short notice nature, Austin Hubbard’s workhorse like rate should zap Bush’s cardio as the fight wanes. In the end, Hubbard wins via decision.
135 lbs.: Anthony Birchak vs. Tony Gravely – Anthony Birchak has had a rough patch of late, losing four of his last six fights. He’s got some pop on the feet and good submission abilities. His chin however is seemingly fading. Once Tony Gravely lands something clean, it will open up a submission victory.