UFC Vegas 24: Whittaker vs. Gastelum Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2021

UFC Vegas 24: Whittaker vs. Gastelum Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    Jim Young/Associated Press

    Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum are set to headline the UFC's latest offering from the Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday in an important middleweight main event.

    Whittaker—who comes in ranked as the No. 1 middleweight—was slated to fight Paulo Costa in what would have been Costa's first bout since losing to Israel Adesanya. Unfortunately, an illness moved him off the card, so we get a fight against Kelvin Gastelum instead.

    The fight will have middleweight title implications, as Whittaker has put together back-to-back wins since his loss to Adesanya.

    The co-main event features the return of Drakkar Klose after more than a year away from the Octagon. He will see the always dangerous Jeremy Stephens in a fight that gives him an opportunity to jump back into the picture at lightweight.

    Here's a look at the complete offering, along with the latest odds and a look at the biggest fights on the card.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—April 17

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+)

    • Robert Whittaker -286 (bet $286 to win $100) vs. Kelvin Gastelum +225 ($100 bet wins $225)
    • Jeremy Stephens -125 vs. Drakkar Klose +100
    • Andrei Arlovski -130 vs. Chase Sherman +105
    • Abdul Razak Alhassan -335 vs. Jacob Malkoun +245
    • Luis Pena -148 vs. Alexander Munoz +120

                       

    Prelims (1 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+)

    • Tracy Cortez -335 vs. Justine Kish +250
    • Alexander Romanov -143 vs. Juan Espino +115
    • Jessica Penne +240 vs. Lupita Godinez -305
    • Bartosz Fabinski -130 vs. Gerald Meerschaert +105
    • Austin Hubbard -177 vs. Dakota Bush +140
    • Tony Gravely -335 vs. Anthony Birchak +245

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Whittaker vs. Gastelum

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    As the odds would indicate, this fight isn't close on paper.

    Robert Whittaker is an elite middleweight who is likely to be favored in against any opponent outside of Israel Adesanya and possibly Paulo Costa. That's why the original main event had serious gravitas.

    A knockout loss to Adesanya brought Whittaker's stock crashing, but wins over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier since then have reminded fans of his capabilities.

    That includes a well-rounded game. He can outstrike opponents, as he did against Cannonier, neutralizing his opponent's power. He can also mix in wrestling when called for, which he did in taking down Till twice en route to a decision win.

    Gastelum had a good run at middleweight for a bit, but the other shoe has dropped. He wrestled Ian Heinisch to a decision win in February, but that brought a three-fight winless streak to a halt.

    This fight should serve as a momentum boost for the former champion so that he can get a fight against Costa booked again.

    Prediction: Whittaker via decision.

Stephens vs. Klose

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Jeremy Stephens and Drakkar Klose might not be traditional co-main eventers in the sense of ranking. Neither is particularly close to the title picture. Stephens is ranked in the featherweight division, but this fight will be at lightweight.

    Klose's inactivity is part of the reason he isn't in the conversation. He's only fought twice since 2019 and had a fight in February canceled because of COVID-19 protocols. His most recent appearance was a loss to Beneil Dariush by second-round knockout in March 2020.

    The 33-year-old is at his best when he's moving forward, and he does a good job of blending his wrestling with leg kicks, forcing opponents to think twice about planting their feet to counter.

    Stephens doesn't have the grappling chops but has seen some of the best talent in the featherweight division. He's on a four-fight losing streak with a no-contest, but those losses have come against Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Jose Aldo.

    Klose's competition hasn't been anywhere near the level of those guys. By extension, Stephens is the most proven commodity Klose has seen.

    The tipping point in this fight could be whether Klose can get Stephens to the mat—or whether he wants to. If this is just a slugfest, the advantage goes to Stephens. If Klose can make this a clinch-heavy grappling fest, he stands a better chance.

    Prediction: Stephens via third-round TKO.

Arlovski vs. Sherman

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    This is another matchup that's been affected by a last-minute swap. Parker Porter was supposed to fight Sherman, but he withdrew from the bout. Now The Vanilla Gorilla will see Andrei Arlovski on the main card.

    It's one of those situations wherein Sherman is getting an upgrade in opponent. Arlovski is a much bigger name as a former champion. The Pit Bull is still kicking at 42 with more than 20 years of fighting to his name. He made his UFC debut in November 2000. As in Y2K.

    The elder statesman version of Arlovski doesn't come with the same power of his younger self. He hasn't scored a knockout win since 2015, with all of his wins coming by decision.

    Meanwhile, Sherman has proved to be a knockout artist in his past four fights, winning all of them by TKO.

    Arlovski is a savvy kickboxer, but Sherman should be able to use his athletic and power advantage to add to his resume.

    Prediction: Sherman via second-round TKO.

                

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