UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Gastelum will air on April 17, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Preliminary Card (ESPN/+)
NATAN LEVY (6-0-0) vs AUSTIN “THUD” HUBBARD (12-5-0)
This is a three-round fight in the lightweight division. Levy brings karate and jiu-jitsu. Hubbard brings striking, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Levy’s karate looks to be all he will need to finish Hubbard off early in the fight. Hubbard will avoid his karate by using his wrestling. He will bring Levy to the ground and control him for the entire fight. Levy will try using his jiu-jitsu, but Hubbard will be able to counter every grappling hold he tries. My prediction: Hubbard wins via submission in Round 1.
TONY GRAVELY (20-6-0) vs ANTHONY “EL TORO” BIRCHAK (15-7-0)
This is a three-round fight in the bantamweight division. Gravely brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Birchak brings striking, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Both are well-rounded; Birchak is a better grappler. His wrestling will give Gravely a run for his money and Gravely will not be able to grapple with him. He does have jiu-jitsu, but it won’t be enough to stand against Birchak. My prediction: Birchak wins via unanimous decision.
ZARAH “INFINITE” FAIRN DOS SANTOS (6-4-0) vs JOSIANE “JOSI” NUNES (7-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s bantamweight division. Dos Santos brings striking and grappling. Nunes brings striking and grappling. Both are similar in style; Nunes seems to be more well-rounded. He will be faster and maintain his pacing better than dos Santos. Dos Santos will keep up with his for the first half of the fight. He will begin to slow down the second half. Nunes will keep attacking him and hold nothing back until the very end. My prediction: Nunes wins via unanimous decision.
BARTOSZ “THE BUTCHER” FABINSKI (15-4-0) vs GERALD “GM3” MEERSCHAERT (31-14-0)
This is a three-round fight in the middleweight division. Fabinski brings kickboxing and judo. Meerschaert brings kickboxing, taekwondo, and jiu-jitsu. Meerschaert’s kickboxing and taekwondo look to be all he will need to take Fabinski out. Fabinski can withstand more punishment than Meerschaert and will be throwing harder strikes. Meerschaert will feel the burn and try to counter, but won’t be able to keep up with Fabinski. My prediction: Fabinski wins via knockout in Round 2.
JESSICA PENNE (12-5-0) vs LUPITA “LOOPY” GODINEZ (5-0-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s strawweight division. Penne brings kickboxing, judo, and jiu-jitsu. Godinez brings striking and jiu-jitsu. The grappling Penne possesses looks to be what she will try to use to take advantage of the fight. Godinez will manage to keep Penne from using her grappling by attacking her with strikes. Penne will not be able to withstand Godinez’s power and aggression. Godinez will continue to attack until Penne goes down. My prediction: Godinez wins via knockout in Round 1.
ALEXANDER “KING KONG” ROMANOV (13-0-0) vs JUAN FRANCISCO “EL GUAPO” ESPINO (10-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the heavyweight division. Romanov brings striking, sumo, and, sambo. Espino brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Both are great with striking; Romanov is a far greater grappler. His sambo will overpower Espino’s jiu-jitsu. He will be able to maintain full control of the fight. Espino will try to get back to his feet, but Romanov will keep him on the ground. Romanov will then place him in a submission hold and force Espino to quit. My prediction: Romanov wins via submission in Round 2.
TRACY CORTEZ (8-1-0) vs JUSTINE KISH (7-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s flyweight division. Cortez brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Kish brings kickboxing, karate, Muay Thai, and krav maga. Kish looks to be able to take Cortez out with her Muay Thai; that will not be the case. Cortez will be able to withstand all of Kish’s attacks. Cortez will return her attacks and cause greater damage. She will pressure Kish more and not give her any leeway. My prediction: Cortez wins via unanimous decision.
Main Card (ESPN/+)
RICARDO “CARCACINHA” RAMOS (14-3-0) vs BILL “SENOR PERFECTO” ALGEO (14-5-0)
This is a three-round fight in the featherweight division. Ramos brings Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu. Algeo brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Both can grapple; Ramos will be throwing more strikes. His Muay Thai will give Algeo a tough time and cause him to grow cautious. Algeo will try to strike with Ramos, but he won’t be near his power. Ramos will continue to attack Algeo until he goes down like a rock. My prediction: Ramos wins via knockout in Round 1.
LUIS “VIOLENT BOB ROSE” PENA (8-3-0) vs ALEX MUNOZ (6-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the lightweight division. Pena brings kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Munoz brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Munoz looks to keep the fight standing and outstrike Pena. Pena will bring Munoz to the ground and keep him there. There he will use his jiu-jitsu and wrestling to completely dominate Munoz. Munoz will look to use his jiu-jitsu to defend; it will not be enough. My prediction: Pena wins via unanimous decision.
ABDUL “JUDO THUNDER” RAZAK ALHASSAN (10-3-0) VS. JACOB MALKOUN (4-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the welterweight division. Alhassan brings judo and Muay Thai. Malkoun brings striking and grappling. Alhassan will keep the fight standing and force Malkoun to strike with him. Alhassan will throw heavy strikes causing damage to Malkoun early in the fight. Malkoun will try to defend, but won’t be able to get around Alhassan. My prediction: Alhassan wins via knockout in Round 1.
ANDREI “THE PIT BULL” ARLOVSKI (30-20-0, 2 NC) vs CHASE “THE VANILLA GORILLA” SHERMAN (15-6-0)
This is a three-round fight in the heavyweight division. Arlovski brings boxing, kickboxing, sambo, judo, and jiu-jitsu. He is also a former heavyweight champion. Sherman brings boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Arlovski’s knockout power is something Sherman could struggle with. However, Arlovski has lost much of his power over the past few years. Sherman looks to have nothing to worry about and will be able to stand toe-to-toe with Arlovski. He will throw impressive strikes and keep Arlovski under pressure. Arlovski will try to find an opening, but Sherman will continue to pressure him. My prediction: Sherman wins via unanimous decision.
#9 JEREMY “LIL HEATHENS” STEPHENS (28-18-0, 1 NC) vs DRAKKAR KLOSE (11-2-1)
This is a three-round co-main event in the lightweight division. Stephens brings Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Klose brings boxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Stephens is tough and can withstand much punishment. He has shown signs of losing his stamina and Klose will take advantage of that. Klose will attack Stephens head-on and hold nothing back. He will keep throwing heavy strikes while avoiding many of Stephens’ strikes. Stephens will grow frustrated and begin throwing strikes all over. He will end up leaving himself open and Klose will take advantage of it. My prediction: Klose wins via TKO in Round 2.
#1 ROBERT “THE REAPER” WHITTAKER (22-5-0) vs #8 KELVIN GASTELUM (16-6-0, 1 NC)
This is a five-round main event in the middleweight division. Whittaker brings boxing, hapkido, karate, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. He is a former middleweight champion. Gastelum brings boxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Gastelum looks to give Whittaker a run for his money with the help of his Muay Thai. He will land plenty of attacks, but Whittaker will do the same. Whittaker will cause more damage and pressure Gastelum more. Gastelum will then try to bring the fight to the ground, but Whittaker will counter. Whittaker will control Gastelum throughout the fight until the final bell. My prediction: Whittaker wins via unanimous decision.