UFC Fight Night – Whittaker vs. Gastelum - Preview
Luis Peña vs. Alex Munoz: The main card begins with two lightweights looking to avenge their previous losses. Luis Peña returns from a suspension looking to pick up some momentum having lost 2 of his previous 3 fights. Alex Munoz suffered his first professional loss on his UFC debut last time out and will be looking to make a better showing of himself. There is plenty of motivation for both fighters to be in top form here with neither wanting to suffer back-to-back defeats for the first time in their career. I think that Peña will be able to show his class here with a full training camp under his belt at American Top Team and will be able to out strike Munoz.
My prediction: Peńa by DEC
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Jacob Malkoun: My pick for fight of the night is up next in the middleweight division between the knockout artist Alhassan and newcomer Jacob Malkoun. Alhassan will need to win this as a loss would be his third consecutive defeat which may see him slide out of the UFC main card events. Malkoun is also coming in off a loss in his UFC debut and will be hoping he can avoid the power strikes of Alhassan. I can see Alhassan returning to winning ways here if he can utilise his octagon experience against an opponent that is 10 years his junior. With both fighters equal in height and reach this is likely to be an exciting fight with heavy blows exchanged from the start.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Chase Sherman: Andrei Arlovski makes his 53rd professional mixed martial arts appearance here against another knockout artist in Chase Sherman. With four consecutive knockout wins, Sherman will be looking to add the biggest name to his win column. With 31 wins by knockout between the pair, I can’t see this fight lasting longer than 2 rounds as Sherman will look to finish Arlovski early and if he isn’t able to do this then Arlovski will be looking to grind out a TKO win after Sherman has used all his energy.
My prediction: Sherman by KO
Jeremy Stephens vs Drakkar Klose: The co-main event sees the veteran Jeremy Stephens make his return to the lightweight division against a promising Drakkar Klose. As Stephens has lost 4 of his last 5 fights at featherweight, albeit to very strong opponents, he will be desperate to get back to winning ways and make a fresh start in a new division. As cutting weight will not have been as much of an issue for Stephens as his last few fights I expect he will be fresher than he has been in years with his body not needing to go through so much trauma to lose the weight. I think this will play a big factor in the fight and Stephens will look a lot better. Drakkarwill want to show that he can be a top contender in the UFC by taking out a big name and in doing so would see him get a ranking next to his name. I think Stephens will by buoyed by moving up a division and having more time to focus on his game plan instead of cutting weight and therefore I am going with Stephens.
My prediction: Stephens by KO
Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum: The main event brings together two fighters who should have fought years ago but the bout was cancelled on the day due to Robert Whittaker needing an emergency operation. Kelvin Gastelum has fallen down the pecking order in the middleweight division since then but is still a top contender. Whittaker will be looking for his second chance to take on the champion with a win here but Gastelum, coming in as a short notice opponent, has everything to gain from this fight. I think Kelvin is a more well-rounded fighter overall than Whittaker which gives him more ways of winning the fight than Whittaker. The New Zealander will be looking to dominate this fight standing up and will not want to let Gastelum get in close where he can unload or shoot for a takedown. For Whittaker to win he will need to keep Gastelum at the end of his punches and use his reach advantage to pick his shots to score points and do damage. I think there will be an upset here as I think Gastelum has the ability to adapt and change his game plan mid-fight. I think this is going to go to the decision and may still be up in the air even at that point.
My prediction: Gastelum by DEC