UFC 243 PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS 10/05: Grocke’s updated odds & predictions for every fight
The UFC continues their international tour with a stop at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The main event takes place in the middleweight division where Robert Whittaker defends his UFC middleweight championship against Isreal Adesanya. The co-main takes place in the lightweight division where Al Iaquinta takes on Dan Hooker. Also, on the main card heavyweights Tai Tuivasa and Sergey Spivak face off against each other, Luke Jumeau takes on Dhiego Lima and Justin Tafa vs. Yorgan De Castro.
UFC 243 Broadcast Information
The early prelims will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 5:15 PM (CST) with the prelims airing on ESPN starting at 7:00 PM (CST). The main card will stream on ESPN+ PPV at 9:00 PM (CST).
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Robert Whittaker (20-4) vs. Israel Adesanya (17-0) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Adesanya -125; Whittaker -105
Since losing to Stephen Thompson at UFC 170, Robert Whittaker is on a nine-fight win streak. He won the UFC middleweight championship by defeating Roel Romero via unanimous decision at UFC 213. He beat Romero a second time, this time via split decision at UFC 225 which was supposed to be for the UFC middleweight championship, but Romero missed weight making it a non-title bout. Whittaker returns after almost a year-and-a-half absence to defend his title against Israel Adesanya on Saturday.
Fourteen of the Australian born fighter’s twenty career victories ended inside the distance; nine via knockout to go along with five by submission. The twenty-eight-year-old will make the walk for the twenty-fifth time when he steps into the octagon to defend his title against Adesanya on Saturday.
Israel Adesanya has yet to taste defeat as a pro. His most recent win was at UFC 236 where he beat Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision in what will sure to be a finalist for the fight of the year. Thirteen of the Nigerian born fighter’s seventeen victories ended inside the distance, all via knockout. At thirty-years-of-age, Adesanya will make the walk for the eighteenth time Saturday.
Adesanya prefers to fight in space so he can utilize his kick boxing style of fighting. He’s arguably the best striker in the middleweight division. He has excellent technique; he cuts the cage off well and the way he uses angles will give Whittaker trouble. For Adesanya to have success in this fight I think he must be able to keep Whittaker at range by utilizing a kick heavy offense and sharp jab.
Whittaker is an excellent boxer. He likes to walk forward and pushes a ridiculous pace. He’s going to want to crash the distance and get inside on Adesanya. While I expect the fight to play out on the feet, Whittaker’s wrestling gives him an advantage. He has good takedown defense and offensive wrestling. Both fighters are durable with high fight IQs.
My official pick: Whittaker by decision.
From a betting perspective: If I knew Whittaker was going to implement a wrestling heavy game plan, then I would be all over him at even money as it currently stands. I’m going to monitor the odds and if money keeps coming in on Adesanya, I will make a play on Whittaker.
Al Iaquinta (14-5-1) vs. Dan Hooker (18-8) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Hooker -165; Iaquinta +135
After winning five fights in a row, Al Iaquinta is 1-2 over his previous three bouts. He lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov via unanimous decision at UFC 223, but bounced back with a win over Kevin Lee at UFC on FOX 31. He lost his most recent fight to Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 151. Eight of the Serra-Longo Fight Team product’s fourteen career victories ended inside the distance; seven via knockout. At thirty-two-years old, Iaquinta makes the walk for the twenty-first time.
Dan Hooker was a five-fight win streak until he got destroyed by Edson Barboza at UFC on FOX 31. He bounced back with a win in his most recent bout by defeating James Vick via first round knockout at UFC on ESPN 4. All but one of the twenty-nine-year-old’s eighteen career wins ended inside the distance; ten via knockout to go along with seven by submission. This will be the New Zealander’s twenty-seventh professional fight.
Hooker is a striker who will want to stand and trade. He uses his range well and has a ton of power. While I favor Hooker’s striking, Iaquinta is the better wrestler and that could play factor here. Iaquinta tends to struggle with technical strikers so he must use his wrestling if he’s going to win this fight. On the feet Hooker’s length will give Iaquinta problems so if he can’t get inside boxing range, I think it’s going to be a bad night for him. Both fighters have clear paths to victory.
My official pick: Hooker by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: I’m passing on this one, but the value is on Iaquinta. Money has been coming in on Hooker, if that continues a play on Iaquinta might be worth it.
Tai Tuivasa (10-2) vs. Sergy Spivak (9-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Tuivasa -415; Spivak +315
Australia’s own Tai Tuivasa started his pro fighting career winning his first eight bouts in a row. Now, he enters Saturday’s fight the loser of two straight. He got finished by Junior dos Santos via second round knockout at UFC Fight Night 142 and in his most recent fight he dropped a three round unanimous decision to Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 238. Seven of his eight career wins ended inside the distance; all via knockout. The twenty-six-year-old will make the walk for the eleventh time on Saturday.
Sergy Spivak began his pro career by winning his first nine fights in a row. He finally tasted defeat in his most recent fight when he lost to Walk Harris via knockout within the first minute of round one at UFC Fight Night 151. All nine of his career wins ended inside the distance; four via knockout and five by submission. This will be the twenty-four-year-old’s eleventh pro fight.
Tuivasa has clearly fought the tougher competition. He’s primarily a striker and prefers to trade at boxing range. However, he’s fairly one dimensional with his striking and has no ground game. He has weak takedown defense and is a fish out of water fighting off his back.
If Spivak can survive the early onslaught and get the fight to the later rounds, then his chances of winning increase. Spivak’s path to victory is to get Tuivasa to the ground, tire him out and work his submissions.
That said, Tuivasa via first round knockout wouldn’t surprise me.
My official pick: Tuivasa by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: There’s no way I’m laying 4-1 on Tuivasa. This one is dog or pass. I may take a look at fight doesn’t go the distance.
Luke Jumeau (13-4) vs. Dhiego Lima (14-7) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Lima -155; Jumeau +125
Luke Jumeau is 2-1 under the UFC banner. He won his most recent fight by beating Daichi Abe via unanimous decision at UFC 221. Saturday’s fight will be the eighteenth pro bout for the thirty-one-year-old New Zealander. Of his thirteen victories, five are via knockout to go along with four by submission.
Brazilian born fighter, Dhiego Lima enters the fight looking for his third win in a row. His most recent victory came at UFC Fight Night 150 where he defeated Court McGee via split decision. Of the thirty-year-old’s fourteen pro wins, four are via knockout and four are by submission. This will be Lima’s twenty-second professional fight.
I like the way Lima has looked lately. He seems to be fighting smarter and taking less chances. He has the edge in experience, and he’s fought the tougher level of competition. I think he is better than Jumeau both on the feet and on the ground. I expect Lima to be the busier fighter and out-volume Jumeau on the feet.
My official pick: Lima by decision.
From a betting perspective: I like Lima at -150.
Justin Tafa (3-0) vs. Yorgan De Castro (5-0) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Tafa -135; De Castro +105
Undefeated, Australian born fighter Justin Tafa makes his UFC debut on Saturday. All three of his professional fights were under the Xtreme Fighting Championship (Australia) promotion. His most recent victory occurred at XFC 41 where he finished David Taumoepeau via first round knockout. Tafa has yet to see the third round and all three wins are via knockout.
Yorgan De Castro makes his UFC debut on Saturday after starting his pro fighting career 5-0. His most recent win occurred at Dana White’s Contender Series, Season 3 where he finished Sanford Alton Meeks via first round TKO. Four of the thirty-one-year-old’s five pro victories are via knockout.
This one will be a slug fest until one of them drops. Neither fighter is technical on the feet and they both throw strikes at a low volume. Tafa constantly walks forward and is very athletic for a big guy. I like De Castro’s cardio better so the longer the fight goes on, the more I like his chances. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them get slept in the first round.
My official pick: De Castro by (T)KO with no confidence.
From a betting perspective: Hard pass.
Jake Matthews (14-4) vs. Rostam Akman (6-1) – weight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Matthews -395; Akman +320
I like the way Matthews mixes up his offense. He works in takedowns and is more than competent on the ground. Akman is primarily a striker who likes to push a pace and out-volume his opponents. However, his striking defense is lacking and he’s prone to get hit with counterstrikes.
Matthews has fought the higher level of competition and I think he’s better than Akman regardless of where the fight goes. Akman has power so he does have a punchers chance, but this is Matthew’s fight to lose.
My official pick: Matthews by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: The odds are too high for my liking so this one is a pass.
Callan Potter (17-8) vs. Maki Pitolo (12-4) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Pitolo -385; Potter +310
Potter is average at best everywhere. He’s decent in the clinch, but he isn’t a good striker. He’s best on the ground so his path to victory is to get Pitolo down and outwork him.
Pitolo is younger and stronger. He’s a good striker so as long he can defend the takedown and keep the fight standing, I expect him to piece Potter up.
My official pick: Pitolo by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: Pass, due to the odds being so wide. Fight doesn’t go the distance might be worth taking a look at.
Megan Anderson (8-4) vs. Zarah Fairn Dos Santos (6-2) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Anderson -550; Dos Santos +375
The UFC is in the Megan Anderson business so this is a fight they feel she should win easily. Dos Santos is a primarily a striker which plays right into Anderson’s game. She doesn’t have to worry about defending the takedown, so I expect her come out aggressively and try to get Dos Santos out of there early.
The problem is Anderson has poor defensive striking and takedown defense. Add in the difficult weight cuts she’s been known to have, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dos Santos win this one.
My official pick: Anderson by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: I’m passing, but the value is on Dos Santos. I’m not even comfortable putting Anderson in a parlay.
Jamie Mullarkey (12-2) vs. Brad Riddell (6-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Riddell -180; Mullarkey +150
This one should be a banger. Riddell is primarily a striker. Mullarkey is a striker too, but he will shoot for takedowns to keep his opponents guessing. This one should play out on the feet and if it does, I like Riddell’s chances. That said, Mullarkey has excellent cardio so if he can get past the first round the fight will get interesting.
Overall Mullarkey is the more well-rounded fighter and has fought the tougher competition. His chin is suspect so I can see Riddell knocking him out in the first round. But if Mullarkey can get the fight to the ground, he has a good chance at pulling off the upset.
My official pick: Riddell by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: I like Riddell at -170.
Nadia Kassem (5-1) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (8-2-2) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Kim -180; Kassem +150
Kassem is aggressive with her strikes and kicks and she’s always marching forward. Her biggest weakness is her takedown defense and ground skills. Kim also prefers to stand and strike. If she were smart, she would implement a heavy wrestling attack and take advantage of Kassem’s poor takedown defense. However, I don’t expect that to be her game plan so the fight should play out on the feet.
My official pick: Kim by decision.
From a betting perspective: Pass. Kim should get the win, but I think the odds are too wide.
Khalid Taha (13-2) vs. Bruno Silva (11-3-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Taha -245; Silva +195
Taha will be the taller fighter. He’s going to want to keep the fight at range so he can utilize his reach advantage. Silva is a flyweight fighting at bantamweight. I think the size difference will be too much for him here.
But, Taha has terrible takedown defense and struggles on the ground. If Silva can avoid getting knocked out early, then I think he will eventually get Taha to the ground. If he does, then it’s anybody’s fight.
My official pick: Taha by (T)KO.
From a betting perspective: As of right now I’m passing, but the value is on Silva.
Enjoy the fights!
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