The Payout Pick: UFC 243 Main Event Whittaker-Adesanya

October 4, 2019

Robert Whittaker meets Israel Adesanya on Saturday at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia. Sports bettors can’t seem to pick a favorite in this matchup which will unify the middleweight title.

Although odds may have changed since you read this, Whittaker was the slight favorite at -115 while Adesanya sits around -105 making the fight a virtual pick’em. It appears that late money is going the way of “The Last Stylebender” so Adesanya may be the favorite going into Saturday’s fight.   Whittaker is coming off almost an 18 months absence from the Octagon after undergoing emergency surgery due to a hernia.  Adesanya is coming off a solid performance to win the interim UFC middleweight championship this past April.

The good news for those that like striking is that this fight will stay on the feet.  Both have the penchant to stay upright and throw strikes rather than take the match to the ground.  In fact, Adesanya has not landed a takedown in the Octagon and has just 3 attempts.  Whittaker hasn’t ventured much to the ground either but he has completed 4 of the 7 takedowns he’s made. He’s also great at takedown defense, so on the feet this fight shall stay.

Unlike Adesanya, Whittaker has been an underdog in his fights in the UFC whereas Adesanya has been the fight favorite.  Whittaker was last an underdog against Derek Brunson and Jacare Souza.  Those two fights were prior to his back-to-back fights where he was the favorite against Yoel Romero.  This shouldn’t matter much although you might make the argument that Whittaker is the more stoic fighter having faced adversity of being the underdog.

The stats seem to favor Adesanya when it comes to striking defense but its worthy to note that Kelvin Gastelum’s unrelenting come forward style gave him troubles during their fight this past April.  Similarly, Whittaker has a style where he can press the action which may keep Adesanya fending off the Reaper.  He’s also seems to be good at fighting the counter and could find avenues to take advantage of Adesanya’s striking.  Conversely, Adesanya’s length (80-inch reach versus 73.5 for Whittaker) is something to take into consideration.  Adesanya knows how to use his advantage and it will be up to Whittaker to close space between the two to ensure that he’s out of harm’s way.

I’d give the slight advantage here to Whittaker.  I’m a little hesitate considering we don’t know how Whittaker will be coming off such a long layoff from injury.  But, be has the proven chin to withstand Adesanya’s striking and his previous battles with Yoel Romero show that he has the capability to withstand being in trouble.  Moreover, I foresee counters off of Adesanya’s offense which could see a Whittaker stoppage in round 3.

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