Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum UFC Fight Night Odds, Pick & Prediction: How To Back the Former Middleweight Champ (Saturday, April 17)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Robert Whittaker.
- The winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum could be in line for a middleweight championship fight.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down where he sees betting value on the former champ.
Whittaker vs. Gastelum Odds
Saturday’s main event features a potential No. 1 contender fight in the middleweight division between former champion and current No. 1 ranked contender Robert Whittaker and No. 8 contender Kelvin Gastelum, who is replacing Paulo Costa on a month’s notice.
Most likely, Saturday’s winner will have to fight No. 3 contender Marvin Vettori in a middleweight title eliminator, as all three men look to earn a rematch with the division’s champion, Israel Adesanya.
Whittaker and Gastelum were originally supposed to fight for UFC gold in February 2019 after serving as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. Unfortunately, Whittaker underwent emergency surgery on the day of the fight and the bout was canceled. More than two years later, they’ll finally get a chance to throw down.
Tale of the Tape
|Record||23-5||17-6-0 (1 NC)|
|Avg. Fight Time||13:04||12:18|
|Weight (pounds)||185 lbs.||185 lbs.|
|Date of birth||12/20/90||10/24/91|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.52||3.64|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.44||2.92|
|Take Down Avg||0.43||1.22|
Whittaker had closed around odds of -240 (implied 70.6%) before pulling out of his fight with Gastelum at UFC 234. He was listed at -190 (implied 65.5%) for his originally scheduled scrap for Saturday with Paulo Costa and opened around -275 (implied 73.3%) once Gastelum became his opponent.
The former champion appears to have the edge in terms of strike output (+1.08 to 0.72 in strike differential; +0.88 landed per minute), and he has shown the cardio to sustain over five rounds.
Gastelum can match that cardio and win minutes in this fight too. He likely has the edge in speed and durability; the American has never been knocked out in 23 professional fights.
Still, Gastelum is more of a natural welterweight in terms of physique. His tendency to rely on grappling and control to flip rounds could prove difficult against a larger fighter with strong takedown defense (84% for Whittaker).
Gastelum had his way with Ian Heinisch (six of 14 on takedown attempts, 45% control time) in the grappling, but I expect this matchup against Whittaker to mostly be a distance striking battle. While Gastelum can win some of the exchanges and take rounds, he likely needs to vary his approach to secure three or more rounds in this fight. Securing takedowns causes your opponent to put more into defending them, which drops their hands and creates openings for your striking.
The primary concern is durability for Whittaker, with prior knockout losses against Adesanya and welterweight Stephen Thompson, a pair of technically proficient strikers who aren’t the biggest hitters by any means. Whittaker has been rocked in both of his fights since the Adesanya loss, too, decision wins over Jared Cannonier and Darren Till. Ultimately, he recovered in both fights, but I’m worried that his chin is ready to crack again.
Whittaker vs. Gastelum Pick
I projected Whittaker as a 75% favorite in this spot. I would consider a wager on Whittaker’s moneyline at -250 or better; he has all the tools to handle an opponent like Gastelum – I’m just worried about his durability after the optics of his past three fights.
That said, while I show value on the “fight goes the distance” prop (listed -140, projected -157) and considered betting the Over 3.5 (-160) and/or Over 4.5 (listed -140), I only landed on Whittaker’s decision prop (projected 52.5%, or -111) which I would bet to +111 (implied 47.4%) at more than a 5% edge.
Given the perceived difference in durability, the under appears to be correlated to the Gastelum side. I would actually prefer to bet his moneyline or knockout prop (projected +600, listed +600) rather than laying juice on the Over.
However, if this fight goes five rounds, I’m expecting Whittaker to win on the scorecards, so rather than dabbling with juiced-up Overs, I’ll take plus-money on Whittaker’s decision line and hope his chin stays intact.
The Pick: Robert Whittaker wins by Decision (+150 at PointsBet, play to +111)