UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Gastelum Predictions, Odds & Picks

USA Today

  • Originally slated to face each other for the UFC middleweight championship in 2019, this main event between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum now appears to have number-one contender implications on the line
  • Robert Whittaker was originally set to take on Paulo Costa this Saturday but the former title challenger was forced to withdraw from the contest due to illness
  • A heavyweight bout also sees a last-minute replacement as former champion Andrei Arlovski replaces Parker Porter on week’s notice to take on Chase Sherman

UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs Gastelum

Fighter Odds
Robert Whittaker -265
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Kelvin Gastelum +210
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Fighter Odds
Jeremy Stephens -137
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Drakkar Klose +110
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Fighter Odds
Andrei Arlovski TBA
Chase Sherman TBA
Fighter Odds
Abdul Razak Alhassan -335
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Jacob Malkoun +245
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Fighter Odds
Luis Pena -139
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Alexander Munoz +110
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UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs Gastelum – Picks & Predictions

Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum – Middleweight Division

Robert Whittaker (-265)

Jeremy Stephens vs Drakkar Klose – Lightweight Division

Jeremy Stephens (-137)

Andrei Arlovski vs Chase Sherman – Heavyweight Division

Chase Sherman

Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Jacob Malkoun – Middleweight Division

Abdul Razak Alhassan (-135)

Luis Pena vs Alexander Munoz – Lightweight Division

Alexander Munoz (+110)

How to Watch Whittaker vs Gastelum

Whittaker vs Gastelum Information
What UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs Gastelum
Where UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
When Saturday, April 17, 8PM EST
How to watch ESPN, TSN5, Watch on ESPN+ here!

Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum – Middleweight Division

Robert Whittaker TALE OF THE TAPE Kelvin Gastelum
30 Age 29
5 ft. 11 in.. Height 5 ft. 9 in.
73 in. Reach 71.5 in.
22-5 Record 16-6, 1 no-contest

Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker

Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has made one thing clear since losing his title: he wants it back. Since losing the title to Israel Adesanya via second-round knockout at UFC 243, Whittaker has taken the time to properly recover and take on the best there is. He rebounded from his title loss with a dominant five-round decision win over Darren Till. He followed that performance with an even more dominant decision win over Jared Cannonier last October at UFC 254.

Whittaker was originally expected to take on the last man to lose to Adesanya, Paulo Costa. However, Costa had to pull out of the fight citing an illness.

Whittaker was once scheduled to defend his middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 but had to pull out the day of the bout due to a hernia. Although it’s not for the gold, it is still a highly anticipated bout for the UFC middleweight division.

Born in Australia, Whittaker has bounced around promotion, weight classes, and gyms, before finally finding his groove as a middleweight. Fighting since 2009, Whittaker now trains with coaches Henry Perez and Justin Fitzgerald. He holds black belts in Hapkido, Goju-Ryu karate, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. At the time of writing, Whittaker is ranked as the number-one contender in the middleweight division as well as the 13th-best pound-for-pound men’s fighter.

Kelvin Gastelum

Since his razor-thin split-decision loss to Israel Adesanya in their interim title match in 2018, Kelvin Gastelum has struggled. He went on to lose his next two fights as well – a split-decision loss to Darren Till and a submission loss to Jack Hermansson. In his most recent bout, Gastelum took a small step down in competition but it seemed to be just what he needed. He dominated Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 this past February. A win over Robert Whittaker would catapult Gastelum right back into the division’s top-five rankings.

One year younger than Whittaker, Gastelum will be at a two-inch height and a 1.5-inch reach disadvantage Saturday night. Gastelum has been fighting since 2010 and trains with Kings MMA as well as with Yuma United MMA. The southpaw fighter has NJCAA wrestling credentials as well as a black belt in 10th Planet jiu-jitsu under Brian Beaumont. He is currently ranked eighth in the UFC middleweight division.

Jeremy Stephens vs Drakkar Klose – Lightweight Division

Jeremy Stephens TALE OF THE TAPE Drakkar Klose
34 Age 33
5 ft. 8.5 in. Height 5 ft. 8 in.
71 in. Reach 70 in.
28-18, 1 no-contest Record 11-2-1

Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens

Saturday night will mark Jeremy Stephens’s first fight in the lightweight division since 2012. Stephens has spent the past eight years as a featherweight where he put together a record of 8-9 with one no-contest. He also missed the 145-pound mark twice. He entered his most recent fight on a three-fight losing skid. In the fight, he took on Calvin Kattar at UFC 249 last May and lost via second-round knockout.

The 34-year-old American fighter has been fighting since 2005 and currently finds himself training with the Alliance MMA team. He holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He leaves the featherweight division still ranked as the ninth-best. He will have a one-inch reach advantage in Saturday night’s co-main event.

Drakkar Klose

Drakkar Klose joined the UFC in 2017 and has thus far gone 5-2 with the promotion. Klose was riding a three-fight winning streak heading into his latest fight – a streak that saw him defeat the likes of Lando Vannata, Bobby Green, and Christos Glagos. He most recently fought Beneil Dariush at UFC 248 last March. Klose would lose the fight via knockout in the second round.

Fighting since 2014, Klose has recently moved his training camps from the MMA Lab to Fight Ready. Like his opponent, he holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This is his first fight since testing positive for COVID-19 in February.

Andrei Arlovski vs Chase Sherman – Heavyweight Division

Andrei Arlovski TALE OF THE TAPE Chase Sherman
42 Age 31
6 ft. 4 in. Height 6 ft. 4 in.
77 in. Reach 78 in.
30-20, 2 no-contests Record 15-6

Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovski

Since re-signing with the UFC in 2014, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski has gone 8-11 with one no-contest. He started his comeback with four straight wins but has struggled to string wins together ever since. Arlovski was riding a two-fight winning streak recently, defeated Philipe Lins and Tanner Boser in 2020 before being stopped by Tom Aspinall just this past February due to a second-round rear-naked choke submission.

Arlovski is 11-years older than his opponent and that experience could pay off. But experience (and a one-inch reach advantage) could be the only tools Arlovski has on his side. Born in Belarus, Arlovski is known for his sambo skills, in which he boasts an international master of sport. He has been fighting since 1999 and currently trains with American Top Team out of Florida.

Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman

Chase Sherman was on the outs with the UFC after dropping three straight fights in late 2017 and 2018. He took his skills to the Island Fights organization where he emphatically won three straight fights. He signed a new deal with the UFC and returned to the octagon last May – earning a second-round TKO over Isaac Villanueva. It was his fourth TKO victory in a row.

Although younger than his opponent Saturday night, Sherman seems the more credentialed fighter, boasting a purple belt in kickboxing under Duke Roufus as well as a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He was also an NCAA Division II wrestler. Training since 2014, Sherman splits his time between the Alan Belcher MMA Club as well as with the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy.

Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Jacob Malkoun – Middleweight Division

Abdul Razak Alhassan TALE OF THE TAPE Jacob Malkoun
35 Age 25
5 ft. 10 in. Height 5 ft. 9 in.
73 in. Reach 73 in.
10-3 Record 4-1

Abdul Razak “Judo Thunder” Alhassan

After three knockout victories in a row (including a performance of the night bonus) Abdul Razak Alhassan now finds himself on the wrong end of a two-fight losing streak. His win streak was snapped by Mounir Lazzez last July where he lost a unanimous decision. In his most recent bout last November, Alhassan suffered a first-round knockout at the hands of Khaos Williams. Alhassan missed the welterweight limit of 170-pounds for both of his last two fights and is making the move to middleweight for this contest Saturday night.

The 35-year-old fighter from Ghana is ten years older than his opponent and he will have a one-inch height advantage. Alhassan trains out of Texas with Fortis MMA and holds a black belt in judo. He has been fighting in mixed martial arts since 2013.

Jacob “Mamba” Malkoun

Jacob Malkoun was an undefeated fighter heading into his time with the UFC – a stretch that also included a unanimous decision boxing win. Malkoun debuted for the promotion last October on the UFC 254 Fight Island card. However, he lost in the first 18-seconds via knockout to Phil Hawes.

Born in Australia Malkoun trains out of his home country and is a training partner of main eventer and former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. He holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Luis Pena vs Alexander Munoz – Lightweight Division

Luis Pena TALE OF THE TAPE Alexander Munoz
27 Age 31
6 ft. 3 in. Height 5 ft. 9 in.
76 in. Reach 72 in.
8-3 Record 6-1

Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena

Luis Pena made his UFC debut on the Ultimate Fighter finale in 2018 and won with a submission over Richie Smullen. Since then, he has had mixed results, holding a record of 4-3 with the promotion. Pena’s last outing was no success as he tapped out to Khama Worthy’s third-round guillotine choke last June and later tested positive for marijuana. He was suspended for 4.5-months following the positive test result.

The Italian fighter comes into this contest with a six-inch height advantage. He has also worked with some of the best gyms in North America as he currently trains with American Top Team and is a former student of the American Kickboxing Academy. Fighting since 2014, Pena holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is currently unranked in the UFC lightweight division.

Alexander Munoz

Alex Munoz was undefeated when he appeared on the Dan White Contender Series, where he made the easy work of Nick Newell in 2018. He had one more professional win before debuting for the UFC last August, where he would face Nasrat Haqparast. Munoz would lose the unanimous decision – the first loss of his professional career.

Not only will Munoz be at a six-inch height disadvantage this Saturday, but he will also be at a reach disadvantage of four inches. Born in Dallas, Texas, Munoz also trains with one of MMA’s most renowned gyms: Team Alpha Male.

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Ryan Bristlon

Expert on UFC

Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of the sport of hockey and the NHL.



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