Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker delivered a masterful efficiency over 5 rounds at UFC Vegas 24, outstriking a tricky Kelvin Gastelum to safe a unanimous resolution in his third battle since dropping the title to Israel Adesanya.
Whittaker took residence unanimous scores of 50-45 with superior accuracy and timing, punching between Gastelum’s assaults to wreck the one-time interim title challenger repeatedly in the principle occasion on Saturday at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
“I really feel on prime of the world,” mentioned Whittaker, who was initially scheduled to face Paulo Costa earlier than the one-time title challenger withdrew from the battle. “Clearly, this was a really arduous battle. I believe lots of people have been promoting Kelvin quick for the place he was within the rankings. He’s top-of-the-line fighters within the division, and that was a tricky battle.”
The matchup was three years within the making after Whittaker and Gastelum’s assembly as opposing coaches on The Final Fighter 28 was cancelled by Whittaker’s last-second well being points at UFC 234. However very early within the battle, the superior fighter was clear.
Gastelum by no means stopped coming ahead, swinging heavy photographs as he tried to nook Whittaker. More often than not, he was stung by a jab or a straight proper earlier than he landed, although he left the ex-champ with a swollen left eye and bloody nostril with the work he did.
“We have been getting ready for Costa initially,” mentioned Whittaker. “Velocity was the important thing, and I labored my standup loads. We simply bought my palms to the following degree.”
The battle almost ended early as Whittaker disguised a head kick with a one-two, and a left hook to the temple left Gastelum on wobbly legs. When Gastelum tried to get one again, Whittaker ducked underneath for a straightforward takedown.
That sample would repeat itself over 25 minutes with minor variations as Whittaker stayed one step forward of Gastelum. If a title shot was on the road, Whittaker left little doubt he was prepared for a rematch with Adesanya, who knocked him out in October 2019.
Requested for his ideas on a possible title shot, Whittaker stored it stylish.
“Nothing however respect,” mentioned Whittaker, who beat Darren Until and Jared Cannonier in his two earlier appearances. “He’s an ideal fighter. However I believe it’s about time we crossed paths as soon as once more. They could simply open up the borders for Australia in September. Let’s make that occur. Let’s see if we will get a stadium again residence.”
That sentiment wasn’t precisely mirrored by Adesanya, who tweeted after the battle, “Good job, my son.”
“It’s him,” Whittaker replied. “It’s what it’s. He will get the trash speaking, proper? He beat me final time. However I’m going to work arduous, and I believe I’ve bought some tips he hasn’t seen but.”
With contender Marvin Vettori sitting cageside, the race for the following middleweight title challenger is nicely underway.