UFC on ESPN 22: Whittaker vs Gastelum Main Card Matchmaking

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Robert Whittaker def. Kelvin Gastelum via Unanimous Decision

Robert Whittaker – Israel Adesanya

Robert Whittaker put on one of the best performances we have seen from the Australian in quite some time. The former Middleweight Champion won all five rounds and solidified his position as the #1 contender for the belt. A case can be made for Marvin Vettori, but with the dominance of Whittaker on Saturday, he should be next. Israel Adesanya will make his first defense since losing his attempt at capturing the Light Heavyweight strap earlier this year.

Kelvin Gastelum – Krzysztof Jotko / Sean Strickland Winner

When his career is over, Kelvin Gastelum might go down as having one of the best resumes in the entire sport. Since defeating Jake Ellenberger in 2014, he has only fought cream of the crop across 170 and 185lbs. Gastelum has now won bonuses in four of his last seven fights despite losing two of those. He accepted this fight on short notice, so don’t expect him to drop in the rankings. It may be hard to convince Gastelum to take a step back in his career but that may be what is best for him at this point. A fight between Krzysztof Jotko and Sean Strickland takes place on May 1. The winner of this fight should be next for Gastelum.

Andrei Arlovski def. Chase Sherman via Unanimous Decision

Andrei Arlovski – Sergey Spivak

At 42 years old, Andrei Arlovski is one of the oldest men still fighting on the UFC roster. The former champion is still remaining active fighting seven times in the past 24 months. With the victory over Sherman on short notice, the Belarussian has now won three of his last four bouts. It is becoming harder and harder to find someone Andrei Arlovski hasn’t faced. One of those few men he hasn’t shared the cage with is 26-year-old Sergey Spivak. The winner will likely crack into the rankings.

Chase Sherman – Raphael Pessoa

Chase Sherman deserves a lot of praise for accepting a short-notice replacement fight with a former Heavyweight Champion. It was a close fight that ultimately went the way of his opponent. He has now lost his first fight in his second UFC stint and will look to rebound next time out. Raphael Pessoa recently finished serving his USADA suspension and will be looking to get his second victory in his next appearance.

Jacob Malkoun def. Abdul Razak Alhassan

Jacob Malkoun – Nassourdine Imavov

Heading into the weekend, many felt Malkoun was being fed to the wolves with this matchup. He was the heavy underdog but was unfazed and cruised to a clear-cut decision victory. A loss would have been extremely detrimental to his career bringing him to 4-2. Instead, he picks up his first UFC victory and positions himself to call out men ahead of him. Nassourdine Imavov recently tasted defeat for the first time in his UFC career losing to Phil Hawes. A fight between the two men will surely be a crowd-pleaser.

Abdul Razak Alhassan – Roman Kopylov

Abdul Razak Alhassan was once the most feared man at 170lbs. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been the same since returning from a nearly two-year hiatus due to false allegations. Alhassan missed his previous two attempts at making weight at 170lbs so I’d expect him to continue at middleweight. Roman Kopylov has high level grappling which seems to be a problem for Alhassan. This would be a difficult fight for the Ghanaian but must-win fight if he wishes to remain in the promotion.

Tracy Cortez def. Justine Kish via Split Decision

Tracy Cortez – JJ Aldrich

Tracy Cortez was one judge’s scorecard away from losing her first fight in the UFC. Outside of a weight miss, Cortez had a very good week in Las Vegas. She will now return home on an eight-fight win streak, with her lone loss being in her debut. A fight with UFC veteran JJ Aldrich would be a good test to see if Cortez is ready for the women inside the Top 15.

Justine Kish – Diana Belbiţă

Justin Kish entered the bout as the heavy underdog and nearly escaped with a victory on Saturday night. With this defeat, Kish has now lost four of her last five and needs a win in her next performance. Romania’s Diana Belbiţă has her back against the wall as well. A fight between the two would determine who would get cut from the promotion.

Luis Peña def. Alexander Munoz

Luis Peña – Clay Guida

‘Violent Bob Ross’ edged out a narrow victory this past Saturday in a fight in a fight many felt he had lost. Regardless, it was a close fight and he is now back in the win column. At 6’3″, Peña is the tallest lightweight in the UFC. A fight with Clay Guida who is one of the shortest would be fireworks. Guida recently asked to fight an up and comer in the division and he would be granted his wish in a fight with Peña.

Alexander Munoz – Khama Worthy

Alexander Munoz has now dropped back-to-back fights for the first time in his career after suffering a narrow defeat to Luis Peña. He was matched up with two of the brightest prospects in the division in consecutive outings so should be rewarded with a third fight. Khama Worthy finds himself in a similar position after losing his second fight in a row. A fight between the two would be a logical addition to an undercard of a Fight Night.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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