Robert Whittaker, the former UFC middleweight champion, defeated Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of the UFC on ESPN 22 last night in Las Vegas. The Reaper, as the fans call Whittaker, was confident throughout the entire match, earning a unanimous decision victory over the former Ultimate Fighter series winner.
Whittaker’s (23-5 MMA, 14-3 UFC) hard strikes and combinations of the same were a massive problem for Gastelum (17-7 MMA, 11-7 UFC), who didn’t know how to stop the same. The American tried to use his boxing skills and also to narrow down the distance between him and the rival, but without success.
The Kiwi indicated his dominance already in the first round, with a severe head kick that left Gastelum stunned. From that point on, he continued pushing at the same pace, not allowing Gastelum to feel comfortable at all. We saw pretty much everything from him in tonight’s battle, striking, wrestling, ground, and pound.
One of the event’s highlights was Whittaker’s front kick to the rival’s face which happened in the final round. At that point, it was apparent Gasstelum has no chances of avoiding a certain defeat in this event.
The former champion was extremely happy due to his performance following the fight, saying that even though many believe Gastelum might be out of shape, he disagrees with that.
“I’m feeling on top of the world,” Whittaker said. “Obviously, this was a very hard fight. A lot of people were selling Kelvin short. … He’s one of the best fighters in the division. That was a very tough fight.”
Originally, Gastelum wasn’t supposed to fight tonight, but he stepped in instead of Paulo Costa, who withdrew due to an injury. The former interim title challenger had one month to prepare for Whittaker, and there can’t be any talks that he wasn’t ready for the battle.
This is the fourth defeat over the past five matches for Gastelum, who only defeated Ian Heinisch, losing to Adesanya, Till, Hermansson, and now Whittaker.
Meanwhile, after losing the belt to Adesanya, Whittaker had three matches, against Till, Jarred Cannonier, and now Gastelum, winning all of them via unanimous decision.
The former champ looks ready for another fight with the Last Stylebender, and it seems that the organization has no other options but to book a spectacle between these two.
He is the No. 1 contender at 185. No doubt about it. Adesanya x Whittaker 2 will be great.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 18, 2021
“Nothing but respect,” Whittaker said of Adesanya. “He’s a great fighter. But I think we should talk, mate. I think it’s time we crossed paths again.”
Nobody knows when it might happen, but some of the pundits are predicting autumn, September preferably. Adesanya is without any plans for the future following a loss to Jan Blachowicz, and on the other side, there are no other challengers than Whittaker in the middleweight division. This situation indicates that Dana White doesn’t have any better solution but to arrange the second clash.
From other fights of the night, the most important news is that the former heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, defeated Chase Sherman via unanimous decision, posting his 20th UFC victory. Arlovski and Jon Jones are the only fighters in the organization to have 20 or more wins in one division. Even though being an underdog, Belarus showed his greatness once again, beating Sherman, who is 11 years younger and was on a four-win streak.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.