The UFC heads to Melbourne this Sunday for one of the biggest MMA events in Australian history. The card is headlined by an exciting Middleweight title clash between local hope Rob Whittaker and Kiwi Israel Adesanya. Lightweight contenders Dan Hooker and Al Iaquinta will battle it out in the Co-Main, while Heavyweight Tai Tuivasa will also feature. We’ll break down the top 3 fights on this card, providing our best bet for each.
Whittaker has had a storied MMA career to date, entering this bout with a 20-4 career record. He is 11-2 since joining the UFC, including wins in each of his last 9 fights. He hasn’t been all that active of late, with his only fight since mid-2017 being an epic win over Romero last year. Known for being a particularly dangerous striker, 14 of his wins have come via finish.
The Nigerian born Kiwi has rapidly risen through the ranks, now sporting a 17-0 professional MMA record. His background is in kickboxing, where he was 75-5-1 for his career before turning to MMA. He is 6-0 since joining the UFC, including convincing wins over Silva and Gastelum earlier this year.
Prediction: Whittaker $1.80
Although Whittaker has battled some tough injuries this year, there appears to be a lot of line value on him here. Adesanya was near even money to beat Gastelum last time out, while Rob was $1.40 before their fight was scrapped. Whittaker is a notable step up on any of Israel’s opponents so far and I think he has the advantage both striking and on the feet. Assuming full health here, getting Whittaker at $1.80 represents great value.
Another Kiwi veteran on this card, Hooker sports an 18-8 career record entering this bout. He is 8-4 since joining the UFC in 2014, including wins in 5 of his last 6 fights. He has elite striking and grappling ability, managing 10 knockouts and 7 submission wins so far.
Iaquinta has a more than established career of his own, entering this clash with a 14-5-1 career record. He has had some solid wins throughout his career, despite coming up short against Khabib and Cerrone of late. His striking ability is undoubtedly his best asset, with half of his wins coming by knockout.
Prediction: Hooker $1.75
Hooker is a motivated fighter that always gives 110% and should have some good local support here. He has a wrestling game that should concern Iaquinta and the striking ability to match. His energy also gives him the edge if this fight goes to decision, while it could be all over if he gets it to the ground early. Given the range of victory options, I think $1.75 straight up is very solid value.
Shoeyvasa has made waves early in his MMA career, entering this clash with an 8-2 career record. He won each of the first 8 fights to start his career, before consecutive losses to Junior Dos Santos and Blagoy Ivanov. Everyone knows him primarily for his elite power, with all but one of his wins coming via knockout.
The ‘Polar Bear’ has also had a strong start to his career, winning 9 of his first 10 matches. He made his UFC debut in May this year, losing via first round KO to Walt Harris. Like Tuivasa, he is a flashy fighter that goes for the finish, with all of his wins coming via knockout and submission.
Prediction: Tuivasa by KO
Spivak has the edge on the ground but Tuivasa has the significant speed and striking advantage. Especially with a rowdy home crowd behind him, I think he shows huge energy early and gets the job done quickly. While no markets are currently up, a first round KO is the most likely outcome in my mind. The longer the fight goes, the more chance Spivak has of an underdog submission.