The APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada was home to a great night of fights at UFC Vegas 24: Whittaker vs. Gastelum. The card saw one (T)KO, one submission, and eight decisions, including four split-decisions, one of which was a technical split.
The prelims opened with a bang when Tony Gravely scored the second-round TKO of Anthony Birchak. Austin Hubbard would snag a unanimous decision over Dakota Bush in a lackluster performance, but Gerald Meerschaert would remedy that when he secured a quick guillotine choke of Bartosz Fabinski. Jessica Penne upset the odds when she beat “Loopy” Godinez via split-decision, the first of four-in-a-row on this card. Alexandr Romanov was the second to win via split-decision against Juan Espino to close out the undercard.
The main card kicked off with Luis Pena promising a new and improved version of himself, yet somehow still looked exactly like the old version. He was our third winner via split-decision. Tracy Cortez showed off her wrestling chops but she clearly still needs some work on her standup. She snagged the fourth split-decision victory of the night against Justine Kish. Aussie prospect Jacob Malkoun outwrestled Abdul Razak Alhassan to take home the unanimous decision victory in a fight that saw Alhassan dominated all three rounds.
The co-main event saw 22-year veteran Andrei Arlovski beat Chase Sherman, taking a big barrage of bombs in the first round, then thriving (not just surviving) for the remaining two rounds, taking the unanimous decision from a man more than 10 years his junior. Andrei is 42 years old, with 53 pro fights. This one was his 35th UFC contest.
The main event was a fun scrap that saw the former champ tune up Gastelum on the feet. He landed plenty of heat, as well as a metric ton of high kicks, some of which really shook up Gastelum. Whittaker’s footwork and speed were just too much, and he edged out every round by my tabulation. Whittaker looked fresh in round five, while Gastelum looked beyond worn. In Whittaker’s last fight with Jared Cannonier, he looked a little winded after three rounds. He has obviously worked on preserving his stamina. He put on a masterclass.
Performance of the Night: Tony Gravely and Gerald Meerschaert
Tony Gravely (TKO (punches) at 1:31 of round 2) and Gerald Meerschaert (guillotine choke at 2:00 of round 1) both finished their fights and both would take home $50K bonuses.
Fight of the Night: Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Austin Hubbard (29-28 x3), Jessica Penne (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), Alexandr Romanov (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Luis Pena (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Tracy Cortez (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Jacob Malkoun (30-27 x3), Andrei Arlovski (29-28 x3), and Robert Whittaker (50-45 x3) all went the distance but it would be Robert Whittaker’s domination of Kelvin Gastelum that would take the night’s FOTN bonus.