In the main event of Saturday’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Vegas 24, Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker, the New Zealand-born Australian professional mixed martial artist, scored a convincing 50-45 win on all three judges’ scorecards against Kelvin Gastelum, American professional mixed martial artist in the Middleweight division at the Apex facility in Las Vegas.
In the early exchanges, Gastelum was aggressive and took control of the center of the Octagon. It was not what Whittaker wanted, so he quickly countered Gastelum, sending a message with a strong head kick that landed squarely.
From then on, Whittaker established some of his dominance in the clash. Not long after, he showed he actually held the wrestling advantage as he took down the former collegiate wrestler and held him down for the rest of the opening round to get the upper hand over Gastelum.
The Reaper intensified his attacks against the aggressive Gastelum and continued what became noticeable as his tactics against the American: countering every salvo with one of his rather than force the issue of a takedown in the rounds that followed.
What Gastelum could not match was the Reaper’s success on his feet, which Whittaker has built on his great timing and hand speed. That gap only widened as the fight moved on and the Australian simply kept his game plan, countering multiple shots for every one punch the former landed, going.
It was a clear demonstration of the fighting chops of Whittaker. Recall that Israel Adesanya made light work of the Aussie in their first fight, but Whittaker has shown that he is the favourite against anyone else in the division whose surname is not Adesanya.
There were some points that went Gastelum’s way but there was no denying Whittaker’s momentous win. The Reaper was simply the quicker, the stronger and the more technical fighter of the pair in the contest and deservedly won it. The win makes the Australian a possible challenger for Adesanya and may be in line for a rematch.
With the improvements he has shown after losing to Adesanya, a second match between the pair of fighters will be a major attraction for the UFC. This is more so considering that Adesanya recently lost to Jan Blachowicz while attempting to step up into the light heavyweight division in UFC 256 early last month.