With an action-packed weekend of UFC action on the horizon, we preview UFC 243 and provide free predictions and picks.
Fight 1: Jake Matthews (-280) vs Rostem Akman (+220)
My read on this fight- Jake has been a prospect for quite some time, has not quite lived up to the hype he was once getting, although I do believe this match up does favor Matthews as the odds will show. Akman is a fighter based out of Sweden; some may say Akman is half-man, half werewolf. Akman made his UFC debut back in June losing a unanimous decision to Sergey Khandozhko. Akman does carry some power in his hands, he also has solid cardio but his technique is sloppy. He does not have good takedown defense, he does not look great off of his back. He has a tendency to keeps his chin open while throwing strikes, which I believe Matthews will capitalize off of. Akman also has a tendency of over committing and lunging on his big power strikes, I see Jake landing points with well-timed take downs and ground control, along with out striking Akman on the feet. Matthews will have the speed advantage, grappling advantage, youth is in his favor and Matthews does carry some power himself. The only long shot Akman has is to finish Matthews by strikes.
Fight 2: Maki Pitolo (-265) vs Callan Potter (+205)
I will keep this one short and sweet, I am sure Potter being on the card will help with ticket sales for the Australian market supporting the hometown guy but Pitolo is the better fighter here. Pitolo had a solid performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series. Pitolo’s nickname is “Coconut Bombz”, which is fitting given the well-rounded fighter’s serious power in his hands. This is Potter’s second UFC bout, with his previous level of competition not being a convincing one. He has had one previous fight with a notable name in Marcin Held, which ended in Potter getting submitted in the 1st round.
Fight 3: Robert Whittaker (-120) vs Israel Adesanya (+100)
The long awaited matchup between the two most exciting fighters from down under is finally here. Listen, I know Whittaker has a few things going against him heading into this fight:
1) He is coming off a severe injury, having suffered an abdominal hernia of the intestine as well as a collapsed bowel for which he required emergency surgery.
2) He has been inactive, having fought only once in the last 16 months.
3) On paper, he seems to be at a disadvantage going against the renowned kickboxer who has been more active recently and holds the reach and height advantage.
Having said all that, I am confident in Robert Whittaker doing what it takes to win this bout. We saw Israel get hurt badly twice by an undersized Kelvin Gastelum, who repeatedly seemed to be just centimeters away from landing that devastating strike throughout the fight. Israel ultimately won that bout decisively in a Fight of the Year candidate but the bout showed us that the standup technician does indeed have holes in that aspect of the fight that can be exposed. Whittaker is as durable as they come; we have proof of this by way of two wars against the monster that is Yoel Romero. Whittaker is also a taller opponent for Israel than Gastelum and presents issues in his timing and blitzing style. Look for leg kicks and push kicks to the knee from Whittaker to Israel’s wide stance and the blitzing lead left hook to close distance. While I do not expect the fight to go to the ground, I do believe Whittaker will be able to close the distance with his tricky striking and use his grappling advantage to push Israel to the fence and control some the rounds while trying to wear on Israel. Ultimately, I see Whittaker earning the decision in a 5 round affair.