UFC is back in action on Saturday night with a hugely important fight in the middleweight division. Former 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker is back when he takes on former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Fight Night from Las Vegas. These two were perviously scheduled to face off when Whittaker held the title, but the champ was forced out of action on fight day with a medical emergency. Now the two meet with hopes of facing champ Israel Adesanya next.
Whittaker ran through the division from 2014 to 2018 with nine straight wins, including consecutive victories over top contender Yoel Romero. But his reign ended with a vicious knockout by Adesanya in October 2019 and forced him to go back to the drawing board to pick up the pieces. Now, he's bounced back with a pair of wins over highly ranked foes as he hopes another win gets him the long-awaited rematch in an All-Oceanic thriller.
Gastelum is also looking for a chance to meet Adesanya in the Octagon for a second time. The two men fought at UFC 236 in a thriller that many saw as the 2019 Fight of the Year. Adesanya won the fight, and the interim middleweight title, going on to his fight with Whittaker to become undisputed champion.
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Gastelum's follow-up fights were not as successful, however, as he dropped bouts with Till and Jack Hermansson before getting back in the win column with a decision win over Ian Heinisch in February.
Marvin Vettori is coming off his own Fight Night victory and called for a rematch with Adesanya, representing seemingly the only other man in the immediate title mix. But Gastelum believes the winner of his fight with Whittaker should receive the next crack at the belt.
"I get the win, I get my hand raised, and I get the the chance to fight for the title next," Gastelum said at the event's media day.
Elsewhere on the card, veteran Jeremy Stephens makes his return to lightweight when he takes on Drakkar Klose in the co-main event. Stephens has run into bad luck in his last five outings, dropping four with with no contest. Now, back at 155 pounds for the first time since 2012 due to a hard weight cut, Stephens is looking to for a fresh start as he nears the end of his career.
Here's the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
Robert Whittaker -270
Kelvin Gastelum +220
Jeremy Stephens -120
Drakkar Klose +100
Andrei Arlovski -115
Chase Sherman -105
|Abdul Razak Alhassan -300||Jacob Malkoun +240||Middleweight|
|Luis Pena -160||Alex Munoz +135||Lightweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: April 17 | Start time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: UFC Apex -- Las Vegas
TV Channel: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum: Gastelum is stepping into this fight on roughly one month's notice after Paulo Costa was forced to withdraw. That is both an advantage and disadvantage. It's never great to step into a fight without a full camp, but Gastelum is a southpaw fighter with a different style than heavy-hitting orthodox fighter Costa. The change in opponent will force Whittaker to do some mid-camp adjusting. Gastelum went back to a grappling base against Heinisch in his most recent fight and that could set the style that he attempts to use against Whittaker. Whittaker is a good anti-grappler, though, and if he can get Gastelum to engage in a brawl, there are few men who can successfully stand and trade for a full fight with him. Pick: Robert Whittaker via UD
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