It’s been a fun two weeks in the sun, but after Saturday it’s time to bid adieu to UFC Fight Island. Despite reservations, this fortnight run of events has gone off without a hitch, and the UFC should be commended for all the safety practices they have implemented to run their fights with the lowest degree of risk to its participants (as safe as fighting in a cage can be).
Main Event: Whittaker v Till
The farewell event will be Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Till, which is a truly stacked card, full of top talent and big names, including four former UFC champions (Robert Whittaker, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Fabricio Werdum, Carla Esparza). The main event pits two top middleweight contenders in Robert Whittaker and Darren Till. Whittaker was the 185-pound champion from 2017-19 before having his lights put out, and title took from him, by Israel Adesanya last fall. That marked the New Zealander’s first loss as a middleweight (8-1) and only the second time in his career that he’s been (T)KO’d. This is truly remarkable considering the battles he’s been in. He’s currently a slight
5/7* favourite heading into this weekend’s battle with Till.
I’m leaning ever so slightly towards the former champ as well. But Englishman Till can’t be underestimated, as ‘The Gorilla’ is a hard hitter and quality fighter. However, for a guy who’s supposedly a knockout artist, he only has two (T)KO’s in nine UFC fights. Assuming Whittaker’s chin and body isn’t shot, I expect him to win what could be a very exciting battle.
Mauricio Rua v Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
The co-main event features two Brazilian legends on the verge of retirement – Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and ‘Lil Nog’ Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The two have actually fought each other twice in the past, once in PRIDE and once in the UFC, with Shogun winning both battles. The 44-year-old Nogueira says that this will be his last fight, while Rua has inferred that the end of the road is nigh for him as well. He’s a
20/41 favorite on MansionBet’s board right now and that sounds about right to me. Not only has he already beaten Nog twice in the past, but he has shown in recent fights that he seems to have more left in the tank than his Brazilian counterpart.
Fabricio Werdum v Alexander Gustafsson
The third big fight on the card is a very unlikely heavyweight battle between former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum and perennial UFC Light Heavyweight Contender (and recently retired then unretired) Alexander Gustafsson. This will be the Swede’s first fight at heavyweight, but he’ll have the height and reach advantage on Werdum nonetheless and shouldn’t be at a size disadvantage considering he’s walked around in the 230-pound range for most of his career.
As for Werdum, he looked horrible in his return fight this past May after being on the sidelines for over two years due to a doping violation. He was noticeably out of shape and lost a split decision to Aleksei Oleinik. I expect Gustafsson to piece him up in the striking department on Saturday and get the W. He’s a
1/4 betting favourite currently.
Live Underdogs Worth Watching
If you’re looking for live underdogs for the weekend, I’ve got a few. Octagon newcomer Jai Herbert is at
21/20 for his debut against Francisco Trinaldo. Herbert was a champion in highly respected Cage Warriors and will be 10 years younger and have seven inches of reach on Trinaldo. Mike Grundy is at
31/20 heading into his battle with Movsar Evloev. Both men are premier wrestlers, which means they’ll probably cancel each other out and be mired in a striking battle, in which case I like Grundy’s chances.
*All odds correct at time of writing.