The hot streak survives another week! After going 10-3 with my picks for the full UFC Vegas 23 fight card, I’ve run my heater to 33-11 over the past four events. I’m bound to cool off at some point, but let’s not make it happen this weekend at UFC Vegas 24 (aka UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs Gastelum aka UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Gastelum aka UFC on ESPN 22 – seriously guys, stick with one name for an event going forward, ok?!)
The main event from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night will see former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker face former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum. These two were supposed to fight back in February of 2019 at UFC 234, when hours before the fight Whittaker required emergency surgery for a collapsed bowel (yuck) and an internal hernia (ouch).
Gastelum will be stepping into this headlining slot with only about a month’s notice, as Paulo Costa was forced to withdraw due to illness. As if facing a fighter the caliber of Whittaker wasn’t a daunting enough task, now he has to do it with a condensed preparation schedule. I don’t like Gastelum’s chances beating Whittaker even with proper time to prepare, let alone with only a month. The former champ has shown he still has “it”, reeling off two wins since dropping his title to Israel Adesanya. He’s just a bigger and better fighter than Gastelum and should win this fight with ease. Perhaps that explains the
1/3 line beside his name currently. For a better score, take Whittaker via decision at
20/27, as he hasn’t finished an opponent since 2017.
Underdog to Win the Co-Main Event
The co-main event has 33-fight UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens jumping up to lightweight for the first time since 2012 to face Drakkar Klose. This comes on the heels of five-straight fights at featherweight without getting his hand raised (0-4, 1 NC). I don’t think jumping up in weight is going to help Stephens’s cause, at least on Saturday, as I’m taking the even money underdog Klose to win this fight. He’s the more active striker of the two and is on a nice 3-1 streak in the UFC.
I’m also taking a live dog in the third fight from the top, putting my money behind heavyweight Chase Sherman at even money. He will be fighting 34-fight UFC veteran Andrei Arlovski, who is stepping into this fight on short notice. Why Arlovski is favoured here, especially as a late replacement, is beyond me. Sherman is a knockout machine, and Arlovski has had his lights put out 11 times in his career, so if you want to up the stakes take Sherman via KO at
More Underdogs to Back This Weekend
That’s not it for the underdogs this week, though. I’m also liking Alexander Munoz’s chances at
5/4 against Luis Pena in a lightweight bout. Pena is extremely long for the 155-pound division, but his Achilles heel has been shown to be wrestling – he gets taken down very frequently in fights. Wrestling just so happens to be Munoz’s strong suit, so there is a very clear path to victory for him here, and at plus money to boot.
How about another underdog for you? We all like sweet, sweet plus money, right?! Then take the debuting Dakota Bush at
31/20 in his lightweight bout against Austin Hubbard. Bush is taking this fight on short notice, and has never fought on this level before, which probably explains the favourable betting number. But he’s bigger and younger than the inconsistent Hubbard, and has extensive experience fighting in the top regional promotion, LFA. He’s worth the gamble at that line.
*All odds correct at time of writing.