By News Team
15th April 2021
Robert Whittaker may have one eye on a rematch with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, but first he has some unfinished business to settle with Kelvin Gastelum this Saturday in Las Vegas’ UFC APEX centre.
We also see a potential fight of the night in the co-main with Jeremy Stephens set to battle Drakkar Klose in a three-round-war.
We preview the bouts below.
Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum
Originally booked to defend his title against Gastelum at UFC 234, the 30-year-old Aussie was forced to pull out hours before that event with a life-threatening injury.
He did not return to the octagon until eight months later when losing his belt in dramatic fashion to the current champ, New Zealander Israel Adesanya.
Taking time off to recover from what was only the second KO loss in his career, ‘Bobby Knuckles’ has looked fantastic in his two fights since.
He easily outpointed Britain’s own Darren Till over five rounds in July last year and followed that up in good style three months later when out-punching middleweight slugger Jared Cannonier.
Gastelum, on the other hand, has been somewhat disappointing since dropping a decision to Adesanya two years ago.
He took heavy punishment in the fifth round of that fight and has looked mentally lost since, putting in a lacklustre performance against Till and getting caught in a soft submission against Jack Hermansson.
Known for his slick boxing and hand speed, the iron-chinned American bounced back to winning ways against the limited Ian Heinisch last time, but that victory was achieved with a wrestling-based style – difficult to replicate against ‘The Reaper’ with the former champ’s formidable takedown defence sure to see this one stay on the feet.
Getting one back in the win column would’ve done Gastelum’s confidence the world of good and at 21/10 the underdog has some bite, but Whittaker’s excellent kickboxing should be the dominant force at play in this one.
An overwhelming favourite at 4/11, look for him to control the action with his jab and leg kicks and consistently beat Gastelum to the punch.
A wide decision victory for Whittaker looks the most likely scenario (23/10) which will hopefully set up the well-deserved rematch he seeks with current champ Israel Adesanya.
Jeremy Stephens vs Drakkar Klose
Jeremy Stephens is the epitome of an old school fighter. He goes to war in every fight, often walking away with a knockout or fight of the night bonus.
The 32-fight UFC veteran might be on a four-fight losing skid, but he takes a big drop in class in the co-main event against Drakkar Klose after taking on the elite for the last ten years.
A former Fight Ready and MMA Lab regular, Drakkar Klose has changed his routine for this camp after suffering the first knockout of his career to Beneil Dariush a year ago, moving around the gyms in what he calls a ‘Floyd Mayweather-style camp’.
Improvement is expected from the 33-year-old, but you need to sting a guy like ‘Lil Heathen’ to keep him at bay and decision-machine Klose has limited punching power and a style that could be a recipe for disaster with his tendency to be drawn into a firefight.
EVS makes little appeal and this looks a good opportunity for 4/5 favourite Jeremy Stephens, considering that he was dominating highly regarded Calvin Kattar in his last fight until getting caught in the second round.
The step back up to lightweight should help Stephens’ ability to take a punch and he is 2/1 to end this fight in decisive fashion.