The UFC heads to Australia for this Saturday’s UFC 243 pay-per-view. This card is very weak outside of the main and co-main events. The card is full of Australian fighters against other low level UFC fighters. It’s hard to pick fights on this card because even though I’m low on some of the well known fighters, I can’t pull the trigger on the challenger because they very well may be lower level.
For this reason I’m sticking with just picks for the main and co-main from UFC 243. I will be using the best odds available from any of our top rated betting sites for Canadians for my picks.
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Robert Whittaker vs Israel Adesanya
The main event is a title unification between the champion Robert Whittaker and the interim belt holder, Israel Adesanya. The fight is a pick’em, but I do not think it should be.
Whittaker is 8-0 since moving up to middleweight back in 2014. He’s not been very active of late due to some injury issues, but when he has fought he’s shown he’s the best in the division. This is a guy who won two straight decisions against Yoel Romero, who is an absolute monster at middleweight. Before that he knocked out by Jacare Souza and Derek Brunson to show that his striking is top notch.
Adesanya burst onto the scene just last year and has quickly won 6 straight UFC fights in that span. His most recent win over Kelvin Gastelum was the most impressive win of his career. It was a back and forth fight and Adesanya dug deep to go to another level in the fifth round to win a clear, but close decision. Before this he beat Anderson Silva, knocked out Derek Brunson, and outclassed Brad Tavares, which is very difficult to do.
All of that said, I think Whittaker is the more proven commodity and the more well rounded fighter. Adesanya has been taken down 6 times in his UFC career, and I think Whittaker will be able to secure a few takedowns and go to work on the mat. Whittaker is a world class striker himself, and it’s for this reason that I think he will be able to get Adesanya to the mat because he will be able to mix takedowns into his already versatile and dangerous striking attack. Adesanya was easily able to stuff takedown attempts from Derek Brunson, who was very one dimensional, but earlier in his career he did show he’s susceptible to takedowns at times.
Whittaker’s coach has described Rob as the GSP of middleweight. This is a strange comparison considering Whittaker only has 2 takedowns in his middleweight career. That said, he outstruck Romero on the feet, so there was no reason to go to the mat with an olympic wrestler. Before that he fought Souza and there is no reason to try to takedown a world class jiu-jitsu player who he easily outclassed on the feet, and before that he stood with Brunson – a great wrestler – and got the knockout. Basically, Whittaker has outclassed all of his opponents on the feet since moving to middleweight. Therefore there may not have been many reasons to take the fight to the mat.
I’m not convinced Adesanya will outclass Whittaker on the feet, but if he does I do think Whittaker has a plan B to take this fight to the mat. I do not think Adesanya has a plan B. I also think Whittaker actually is the fighter with more fight ending power in his hands, so if he lands clean I could see him getting a finish. Let’s not forget that Adesanya was knocked out in kickboxing just two years ago.
I think Whittaker is the better fighter with many more paths to victory. Take the proven commodity over the hype.
Play: Whittaker 1.91
Al Iaquinta vs Daniel Hooker
This is a tough bet because I think the odds are fairly accurate. Hooker is the better fighter, but Iaquinta will be a tough out for him.
Hooker is 5-1 in his last 6 fights including big wins over James Vick, Gilbert Burns and Jim Miller. He finished all three of these high end fighters by knockout in the first round. His lone loss in the last 3 years came to Edson Barboza when he was caught in the third round.
The problem for Hooker when fighting Iaquinta is the fact he’s never been knocked out in his MMA career. He has five losses in his career, but three came by way of submission and two by decisions more recently. For a guy like Hooker who is used to finishing opponents early he has to be ready to go the 15 round distance against a durable opponent like Iaquinta.
That said, I think Al is vastly overrated and Hooker should be a class above him in this fight. For this reason I’m going to be taking Hooker in front of his home fans.
That said, this is definitely a risky bet considering that Hooker is only 1-5 when going to the scorecards in his career.
Play: Hooker 1.65 @ SportsInteraction.com