The UFC touches down at the Apex Center in Las Vegas once again tonight, April 17, 2021, for UFC Vegas 24, where top middleweight contenders Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum go to battle in the five round main event.
These two were scheduled for a five round clash two years ago at UFC 234, when Whittaker was the champion and Gastelum was challenging for the belt. Whittaker of course pulled out the day of the bout, but they finally get to face off against one another tonight, most likely for the No. 1 contendership at 185 lbs.
Since UFC 234, Whittaker has lost his belt to current champion Israel Adesanya via KO in round two, but rebounded with back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.
Gastelum on the other hand has gone 1-3 since, losing three-straight to Israel Adesanya (UD), Darren Till (SD), and surprisingly, Jack Hermansson (heel hook). That lone victory came in his last fight, where he defeated Ian Heinisch via unanimous decision in February.
Continue reading to see how this epic middleweight main event went down:
Official Result: Robert Whittaker def. Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Whittaker comes out light on his feet as always, but Gastelum is cocked and loaded for the counter shot.
Whittaker lands a beautiful round kick to the head of Gastelum, but Gastelum just ate it, before eating another one. Whittaker then secures a body lock trip and remains in Gastelum’s half guard until there were about 20 seconds left, when Gastelum was able to work his way back to his feet.
Gastelum is doing a good job pressing forward and landing his punches, but Whittaker is also doing a good job of making him miss some of them.
Whittaker secures another body lock trip and ends up in Gastelum’s side control momentarily, until Gastelum popped himself back up. It would appear Whittaker is certainly up after two.
This has turned into a very entertaining, high level fight.
Whittaker is using beautiful footwork, head movement, and nasty counters, while Gastelum continues to press forward and eat hard shots. Whittaker just seems one or two steps ahead, and further continues to prove he should be next in line for a title shot.
We’ll say this, this is certainly the Gastelum that was about to be fighting for the world championship. He’s really put on a great performance, Whittaker’s just too technical for him it seems. Gastelum wants it though, and he’s definitely showing it.
One thing that’s been very evident throughout Whittaker’s career, he’s incredibly difficult to defeat over the coarse of five rounds. He has too many skills, you have to knock him out, and while Gastelum’s landed some hard shots on him, he hasn’t been able to do that.
Both of these men maintain their pace through round five, which is just quite remarkable.
Gastelum just doesn’t seem to be quick enough to catch Whittaker cleanly, like Whittaker’s been doing to him throughout this fight. Whittaker mixes things up three minutes in with another takedown, making it three-for-six on his attempts.
Gastelum eventually gets up, but gets taken back down, and the fight ends with Whittaker in control on the mat.
You know, Robert Whittaker was never much of a decision fighter before, he generally knocked his opponents out until the last few years here. Up until his first title fight, which was his first fight with Yoel Romero, he only had four decision victories in his career.
Now his last five victories have come via decision, four of them unanimous. Just an interesting fact.
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.