Robert Whittaker scored a convincing 50-45 win on all three judges' scorecards against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Vegas 24 from the Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Gastelum was aggressive early. He took control of the center of the Octagon, but Whittaker was quick to counter. He sent a message with a strong head kick that landed in the first.
To make matters worse for Gastelum, Whittaker showed he actually held the wrestling advantage. He took down the former collegiate wrestler and held him down for the rest of the opening round.
Despite the success, the former champion did not return to that well too many times. The Reaper continued to pick apart an aggressive Gastelum with counters to nearly every salvo rather than force the issue of a takedown.
Whittaker's success on the feet was built on his great timing and hand speed. That gap only widened as the fight moved on and the Australian simply kept countering multiple shots for every one punch the former landed.
The fight served as a great reminder of just how good Whittaker is. Israel Adesanya may have gotten the best of him in their first fight, but Whittaker has shown that he should be favored against any middleweight who isn't the champion.
Gastelum had a few moments where he landed cleanly, but this night was all about Whittaker. He was too quick, too technical and too strong for his opponent, and he may be in line to get a second crack at Adesanya soon.
Here's a look at the rest of the action from Vegas.
- Robert Whittaker def Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision (50-45 x3)
- Andrei Arlovski def. Chase Sherman via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Jacob Malkoun def. Abdul Razak Alhassan via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Tracy Cortez def. Justine Kish via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Luis Pena def. Alex Munoz via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)
- Alexander Romanov def. Juan Espino via technical split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Jessica Penne def. Lupita Godinez via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
- Gerald Meerschaert def. Bartosz Fabinski via first-round technical submission (guillotine choke) (2:00)
- Austin Hubbard def. Dakota Bush via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Tony Gravely def. Anthony Birchak via second-round TKO (1:31)
Andrei Arlovski def. Chase Sherman
Andrei Arlovski might not have the electric striking that once made him a UFC champion, but he still has enough to take a young gun to school every once in a while. Arlovski relied on an educated striking game to take a decision from Chase Sherman in the co-main event.
Sherman came out swinging in the first round looking for an early knockout.
However, Arlovski was able to take some of Sherman's best shots and simply kept to his plan. Sherman's advances were met with a stiff jab and ripping leg kicks.
Sherman had no answer to Arlovski's lateral movement as he forced Sherman to chase him around the cage only to get jabbed or kicked any time he tried to get something going.
Arlovski has now won three of his last four and remains one of the most polished strikers in the division even at 42 years old.
Jacob Malkoun def. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Abdul Razak Alhassan has shown before he's capable of flattening opponents with fight-changing power. Jacob Malkoun never let him showcase that part of his game as he spent most of the fight fending off takedowns.
Malkoun went to his wrestling consistently. He landed eight takedowns and had over 11 minutes of control time. With Alhassan's power nullified, the fight wasn't particularly close.
The Australian failed to win his UFC debut against Phil Hawes. He was knocked out in 18 seconds, so winning against Alhassan brings him a bit of redemption, especially given the power of his opponent.
For Alhassan, his losing streak now hits three, and it's looking less likely he's going to put things together. At some point, raw power isn't enough to climb the rankings, and that was exposed again in the 35-year-old.
Tracy Cortez def. Justine Kish
A streak of split decisions continued on the main card as Tracy Cortez claimed the win over Justin Kish on two of the scorecards to get her hand raised. While two judges had the fight scored 29-28 for each fighter, another judge saw a clean sweep (30-27) for Cortez.
That judge had to be impressed with Cortez's grappling skills. She had Kish on the ground early and often, working to finish the fight with a submission in the transitions.
Both fighters had their moments in the standing game. Cortez showed off some good body and leg kicks, while Kish's boxing kept her in the fight.
Cortez is now 3-0 in the UFC and has passed every test thrown her way. She's still relatively inexperienced, but she's making a stronger case there should be a number beside her name soon.
Luis Pena def. Alexander Munoz
The main card kicked off with a lightweight bout that saw "Violent Bob Ross" Luis Pena utilize his reach advantage to get a split decision over Alexander Munoz.
Munoz came out with the early lead utilizing some of his wrestling and mixing it up with the UFC veteran. Pena kept his composure, though. He dropped the first round but slowly built his volume and probably stole the fight with his third-round effort.
Pena picked Munoz apart once the fight centered more on the striking game.
The 27-year-old avoided losing back-to-back fights for the first time in his UFC career. He lost to Khama Worthy by submission last time out. Munoz is now 0-2 in the UFC, which brings questions as to how long he'll stick around in the organization.