Updated: May 22, 2021
UFC Vegas 24: The Robert Whitaker Show
With the night’s co-main event being cancelled the day of, an even bigger spotlight was placed on the main event of UFC’s latest Fight Night.
Middleweights Robert Whitaker (24-5) and Kelvin Gastelum (17-7) delivered with a mixed martial arts clinic.
“The Reaper,” Robert Whitaker owned the moment, scoring a unanimous decision victory where he never lost a round on the judges’ scorecards.
This fight featured a wide array of combat, but in every aspect, Whitaker was the sharper man. Gastelum left his mark on the bloodied former champion, but his arsenal was too rudimentary to stifle his opponent.
Standing just five-foot-nine, Gastelum lacked the reach to connect with his heavy left hand and without it, Whitaker never faced any real danger.
From round one on, “The Reaper” picked his spots and looked good doing it. Gastelum, left guessing on how to slow his opponent down, was on the receiving end of repeated high kicks, jabs, leg kicks and takedowns.
To his credit, though, Gastelum was never dropped. His mental fortitude kept him in the fight all five rounds. He was always on the hunt, but likewise, Whitaker never stopped moving.
“My striking is as good as it’s ever been,” said Whitaker in the post-fight interview. “I did more wrestling in this camp than ever before.”
Whitaker’s only loss in the last seven years, is at the hands of the current middleweight champ Israel Adesanya (20-1). After his most impressive showing to date, the 30-year-old Whitaker is due for another shot at the belt.
If and when that happens, Adesanya better be ready for a new and improved Whitaker.
Jacob Malkoun Smothers the Knockout Artist
It was a good night’s showing for team PMA Super Martial Arts Centre.
Middleweight Jacob Malkoun (5-1) was training partners with countrymen Robert Whitaker and further proved the two worked extensively on their wrestling.
Abdul Razar Alhassan (10-4) had won each of his fights via first-round knockout. So, the gameplan for Malkoun was simple, make it out of the first round and don’t let him swing.
That’s exactly what he did. With Malkoun totaling eight takedowns and almost 12 minutes of ground control, Alhassan was never able to demonstrate his supernatural strength.
If the Ghanaian Alhassan wants to advance in the UFC, he’ll have to drastically improve his takedown defense. His opponent backed him into the cage for seemingly the same takedown time and time again.
Surely he was frustrated, but when you have such a glaring strength, it’s expected for your opponent to try and neutralize that.
Look for the 25-year old Malkoun to continue ascending in the future.
Andre Arlovski Survives Heavyweight Slugfest
The legend Andre Arlovski (31-20), at 42 years of age, picked up his third victory in a calendar year over Chase Sherman (15-7).
This fight was an old-school brawl. Sherman looked sharp early, appearing to have Arlovski in a similarly fateful position as he was in his previous loss to Tom Aspinall.
But Arlovski withstood the big man’s punches and changed the momentum in the second with a series of leg kicks that wounded Sherman.
Building off that recipe in the third round, Arlovski did enough damage in those two rounds to squeak the 29-28 unanimous decision.
It’s worth mentioning that Arlovski accepted this fight on short notice. Filling in for Parker Porter, Arlovski avenged a loss from just two months ago with his 20th UFC victory.
Tracy Cortez def. Justine Kish via Split Decision
The women’s flyweight division was on display and provided the fans with a truly satisfying bout. In the end, Tracy Cortez (9-1) earned the victory against Justine Kish (7-4).
As the third round played out, both women gave it their all to leave a lasting impression on the judges knowing there was no decisive leader. The ground game of Cortez seemed to be the difference maker for the judges.
After surviving a knockdown early in the fight, Cortez regained her composure to knock off the more experienced Kish.
Tracy Cortez is yet another alumnus of Dana White’s Contender Series that is making a name for herself.