For the second event in a row, the UFC's Fight Night will be headlined by a very important Middleweight bout that will determine future fights within the division. No. 1 Robert Whittaker will take on No. 8 contender Kelvin Gastelum in the main event. The outcome of this bout will shape the top-5 of the Middleweight division, so the pressure is on.
This week, we have a special section dedicated to the boxing fight between YouTuber Jake Paul and former MMA champion and Olympic Wrestler Ben Askren. Love it or hate it, the fight will take place this Saturday.
Here the odds and the Fightlete staff picks for said fights!
All odds are via Fanduel Sportsbook.
NOTE: All picks and predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Fightlete does not facilitate gambling activities. Please gamble responsibly if you so choose.
Results from the last event:
Kirien: 4-1, +1.80 units
Sean: 4-1, +1.51 units
Abraham: 4-1, +1.51 units
Drew: 3-2, +0.94 units
Mike: 3-2, +0.53 units
Results for 2021:
Drew: 31-26, +0.64 units
Mike: 29-24, -7.62 units
Kirien: 26-31, -13.89 units
Sean: 23-29, -13.02 units
Jake Paul (-176) vs. Ben Askren (+138)
Kirien’s pick: Askren
The odd’s makers have taken into account the popularity of Jake Paul when setting this line. Ben Askren is 39 years old and hasn’t fought since 2019, but still, the instinct of a professional fighter should never be underestimated. Paul is just a kid with too much money and free time. While I applaud Paul's effort and tenacity to chase this fight, he is going to be in over his head on Saturday night. A win from Paul would start a tidal wave of influencers thinking they can get into professional fighting; Askren is fighting for the reputation and sanctity of the sport. He won’t disappoint.
Drew’s Pick: Askren
The fact that Ben Askren is an underdog is pretty crazy to me, so that is why I am hammering it. However, I think people underestimate Jake Paul. If he has dedicated that past three years to training (as many have claimed), he could give Askren some trouble. That being said, Askren has been to war many times and Paul has not even come close. I have Askren getting a late TKO or decision win.
Abraham’s Pick: Jake Paul
Jake Paul fighting Ben Askren is probably one of the more unusual fights to have been made inside of Boxing. Askren is a legit wrestler and one of the best wrestlers in MMA but we will find out how that translates to boxing because takedowns are not allowed. On the other side of the ring is Jake Paul, who has never fought a pure boxer; on the surface, he is just a celebrity looking to further establish his reputation. Yet, he has shown his athleticism, and dedication to the sport is for real. So, I have to go with the controversial YouTuber on this night as the young brash man will show father time is still undefeated.
Sean’s Pick: Askren
Only during these crazy times would a between former UFC fighter Ben Askren and infamous Youtuber Jake Paul come about. Askren has sparred with Tyron Woodley among others in preparation for many of his MMA fights. Since he's also working with world-renown striking coach Duke Roufus in his corner, it’s safe to say that Askren will be prepared. I think Ben mostly clinches Jake in this fight wearing on him as much as possible. If Jake could find an opportunity to counter with a lucky punch he wins, but I see Askren getting a decision winning by endurance.
Mike’s Pick: Askren
This is a tricky one because of how little is truly known about the boxing caliber of either man, but, perhaps against my better judgment, I am going with Ben Askren. It is no secret that Askren has had some of the worst hands in recent UFC history, but hopefully, his experience and grit will be enough to get it done. Askren needs to make it as ugly as possible and make Paul tired and uncomfortable before taking over the later rounds. Paul seems to have sharper hands when hitting the bag, but the bag doesn’t hit back, so I have to ride an underdog Ben Askren here.
Robert Whittaker (-280) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (+220)
O/U 4.5 rounds (-142/+112)
Kirien’s pick: Under
Whittaker is trying to reposition himself in the rankings with back-to-back wins after being defeated by Israel Adesanya in 2019. He has the trifecta advantage of weight, size, and reach against Gastelum and should coast to victory. However, the -280 takes almost all of the value out of that play. I'm going to roll with the under in the hopes that Whittaker can overpower Gastelum early.
Drew’s Pick: Over
This fight is a nightmare to pick. Whittaker has a long history of beating top-notch guys, whereas Gastelum has recently snapped a three-fight skid. This is why I am going with the over. Both will be looking to make a statement, but they are both decision machines. I can see this being a grueling 25 minutes.
Abraham’s Pick: Over
Both men are tough, high-energy fighters looking to throw leather for five full rounds. It’s hard to place a bet on either fighter due to how good each fighter is in all facets of the game. Being a +220 underdog is almost disrespectful to the man who put on a showcase with now champion Israel Adesanya. Since this fight is too close to call, I’ll have to go with the over and heading to the judge's scorecards in what will surely be the most intense fight of the weekend.
Sean’s Pick: Whittaker
Robert Whittaker needs to win this fight to get a rematch with Israel Adesanya. In his last fight, Whittaker stopped rising contender Jared Cannonier by a dominant decision win. Gastelum gave an impressive performance in his victory over Heinisch, especially after suffering a 3 fight skid. However, he isn’t the same fighter that took Adesanya to the distance. Look for Whittaker to pick Gastelum apart and use the clinch game to wear on him en route to a Unanimous Decision.
Mike’s Pick: Whittaker
Robert Whittaker is widely considered to be one of the best Middleweights on the planet, and I still believe that he is underrated. He's as tough as a $2 steak and aside from a lackluster performance against Adesanya, he always seems to get the job done against even the stiffest of competition. Gastelum looked great in his last performance but is too inconsistent. I see Whittaker being one step ahead all night.
Jeremy Stephens (-132) vs. Drakkar Klose (+108)
O/U 2.5 rounds (-142/+112)
Kirien’s pick: Klose
This should be a competitive fight between two experienced fighters. Stephens has lost more fights than he has won in the UFC, which makes it easier to pull the trigger on Klose. I think Klose’s approach is more disciplined and refined overall and will be the difference-maker.
Drew’s Pick: Stephens
This is a weird pick, because Stephens is struggling, and his future in the UFC is on the fence. All signs are saying that Klose should get it done, and that is why I am taking Stephens. This is my “the hungry dog runs faster” theory because another loss could mean the end of his time in the organization.
Abraham’s Pick: Klose
Jeremy Stephens is one of the scariest knockout artists in the history of the UFC. Even one clean punch can mean lights out for his competitor. However, he has consistently showcased issues with his takedown defense throughout his career. As such, I predict that he will be taken down by Drakkar Klose, who has proved himself to be the stronger grappler.
Mike’s Pick: Klose
I was baffled to see Klose as an underdog here. Jeremy Stephens is usually no easy task, but he is riding a four-fight losing streak and currently holds the record for most UFC losses. On top of that, the fight is at 155, not 145, where Stephens typically fights. Klose is a legitimate contender at the weight class who's had time to learn from his loss in his last outing. I got Drakkar all the way on this one.
Sean’s Pick: Klose
Both Drakkar Klose and Jeremy Stephens have been out of action for around a year, and both were finished in their last fights. Klose edges Stephans in this fight as he knows it’s only a matter of time before Jeremy Stephen exposes his chin for the KO. Stephen’s eventual recklessness will be Drakkar Klose’s success.
Andrei Arlovski (-150) vs. Chase Sherman (+122)
O/U 2.5 rounds (-142/+112)
Kirien’s pick: Over
Sherman has never won a fight as an underdog (0-5). The veteran Arlovski has 10 years on Sherman, but he still deserves to be the favorite on Saturday. Both fighter's average fight time is longer than 8:30 so I have confidence in this one making it to the third round.
Drew’s Pick: Sherman
It is insane to think that Arlovski made his UFC debut in 2000. Is this a fighting legend trying to hang on, or is there still gas left in his tank? Although this should not be an easy win, I think Sherman’s output is going to be too high to match.
Abraham’s Pick: Sherman
Chase Sherman is back in the UFC after his short stint in Bare Knuckle Boxing. It’s almost a shock that he is the underdog against the much older Andrei Arlovski but we have to remember the older fighter is coming in on short notice. Unfortunately for former UFC heavyweight champion, this will result in another devastating knockout loss to the younger heavyweight. This is still the heavyweight division though, and it only takes one punch to change the direction of this bout.
Mike’s Pick: Under
I am not sure who’s going to win this one, but I have a feeling someone is going to sleep. Of Sherman’s 21 professional fights, 18 of them have ended with somebody getting knocked out. Arlovski has also seen well over half of his professional fights ending via finish. Combining that with the fact Arlovski got knocked out less than 2 months ago, I don’t see this one going over.
Sean’s Pick: Under
I don’t think this fight will go past the 2nd round as both Chase Sherman and Andre Arlovski have a track record of finishing fights quickly. Knowing that Andre Arlovski’s recent fights were won by decision or he was finished early on gives this a 50/50 chance of happening. Sherman who competed in BKFC just came off a first-round KO in his UFC return so chances are someone is going down!
Tracy Cortez (-265) vs. Justine Kish (+210) (Prelims)
O/U 2.5 rounds (-330/+235)
Kirien’s pick: Cortez
Cortez has won seven in a row. It is going to be eight after Saturday. No reason to get fancy with this one. Take the W, even if the odds aren’t great.
Drew’s pick: Cortez
Cortez has been on an absolute heater lately. She is younger, quicker, and has a reach advantage over Kish. I hate the odds, but I do not see Kish being able to pull off the upset.
Abraham’s Pick: Kish
This is such an interesting matchup. Tracy Cortez is viewed as a future star in women’s MMA. She has the social media following to become a household name and she has the skills to become a top fighter. Even so, could Justine Kish be too early for her? Kish has fought and beaten the likes of Nina Ansaroff and Ashley Yoder. She also had a long career in kickboxing (22-2) and Muay Thai, winning 18 times. If Kish successfully defends the takedown, which will be a tough task with the tenacious Cortez, she can have success in her second wind.
Mike’s Pick: Cortez
Not the greatest value in the world, but I think Cortez is a great prospect with a very bright future. In addition to her undeniable skills, she is also big for Flyweight, having fought (and won) her last two bouts at Bantamweight. I think Cortez controls the fight and picks up a unanimous decision victory.
Sean’s Pick: Cortez
I think Tracy Cortez has improved tremendously since she was in Invicta FC. Kish has dropped enough fights to the point that her job may be on the line Saturday. Since Cortez has been with Fight Ready, she’s had some great success. Unless Kish surprises us with something like a crazy submission, which we haven’t seen in a while, expect Cortez to cruise through her by a Unanimous Decision.