Updated: Jan 14, 2022
April 16, 2021.
The UFC will stay in Vegas this weekend for a Fight Night featuring a former champion and a former title contender. Originally, we were supposed to see the former champion, Robert Whittaker, fight outspoken Paulo Costa in the main event, but Costa was forced to back out of the card with the flu. Stepping in is Kevin Gastelum, who was actually supposed to fight Whittaker back in 2019 for a title, but the fight was called off after Whittaker suffered a medical issue of his own.
In this post, we will look at some of the fights on the main card and provide early previews and picks. Circumstances, including weigh-ins and other health concerns during this pandemic, can greatly impact not only each fight on Saturday, but where they end up on the card. We will keep all of you up to date with relevant information through our social media accounts and then in our Game Picks on Saturday. Picks mentioned in this post are NOT our final picks.
Let’s start with the aforementioned main event, Whittaker vs Gastelum. Whittaker is the betting favorite in this fight, with his odds to win currently at -260. Since joining the UFC in 2014, Whittaker has a 10-1 record, suffering his only loss in a title fight with Israel Adesanya. He has since picked up two convincing unanimous decisions over Jared Cannonier and Darren Till. His opponent this weekend, Gastelum, also fought Adesanya and Till, but lost to them both. There is no shame in losing to the division’s elite. Gastelum impressed back in February in a win over Ian Heinisch and could not turn down this opportunity that he was kind of denied back in 2019 (without the belt on the line this time). Both fighters bring a high pace and a strong chin into the octagon. We are extremely excited for what could be a 5-round war. We currently lean towards Whittaker winning.
In the co-main, we have a fight between UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens and the much less experienced Drakkar Klose. Stephens comes into the fight as the betting favorite, with his odds to win currently at -125, but he is far from a sure thing. Stephens has not won a fight in more than three years and is winless in his last five fights. With the recent release of multiple high profile fighters, it is very possible that he will be fighting for his future with the promotion. Stephens is a solid wrestler who fights to put on a show. You can expect volume. Lucky for him, his opponent, Klose, fights a similar style but has done so against much weaker competition. It is hard to get excited for a fighter who looks like a shell of his former self, but it is very likely that we get that best of what is left in Stephens this weekend.
The “co-co” features two heavyweights that rank nowhere near the top of the UFC’s deep roster. Andrei Arlovski accepted this fight with Chase Sherman on extremely short notice after Parker Porter was forced to pull out for undisclosed reasons. It makes sense for a fighter like Arlovski, who is now 42 years old, and only has so much time left in the octagon. Sherman is no world-beater. He has already been dropped by the UFC and is now in his second stint with the promotion. However, watching Sherman fight, it is clear that he fights at a much higher pace than Arlovski, who has won a few recent decisions with very minimal output. Sherman is actually the underdog in this fight, at +105, after being favored to beat Porter.
Last, we want to jump to a lightweight bout between Luiz Pena and Alex Munoz. Pena, better known as “Violent Bob Ross”, has mostly disappointed in the UFC since his time on The Ultimate Fighter. Most noticeably, Pena has not developed the wrestling skills needed to compete at this level and his strikes do not come with much power. He has fought six times in the UFC, and only one opponent failed to take him down. His opponent on Saturday, Munoz, is a high level wrestler from Team Alpha Male and has multiple wins over other fighters with high level wrestling. We are not sure how many more opportunities the UFC will give Pena, but we expect him to struggle getting off his back for as long as he lasts this weekend.
*Please do not confuse our opinions expressed here as our picks for the card. We will post all picks for this event and all UFC events in the Game Picks section of the website.
**Also, let us know if you like this UFC preview! Would you want to see a full card breakdown in the future?