No disrespect to the main event between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum as they put on a hell of a show, but this event will forever be remembered for one thing in particular: Jeremy Stephens shoving Drakkar Klose at the weigh-ins and causing the cancellation of the their contest due to concussion-like symptoms from Klose following the shove. It’s destined to be one of those weird tidbits that people remember, even if they can’t remember which event. Quick, off the top of your head, which UFC event had the main event cancelled when Kevin Randleman slipped on some pipes backstage? Regardless, still no word on whether Stephens will face any consequences.
In the UFC Vegas 24 main event, Robert Whittaker put on a show, picking apart the iron-chinned Kelvin Gastelum over the course of 25 minutes. Whittaker hurt Gastelum at various points of the contest, doing so in a variety of ways with his kicks and punches. Gastelum wobbled on occasion, but never went down and even landed some heavy punches of his own. Even with that, Whittaker never felt like he was in danger of losing the fight as he supplemented his performance with several takedowns.
Given the dominant nature of the win, it feels like there is a very strong possibility of the former champion getting a shot to regain the belt against Israel Adesanya. It gave Whittaker his third win in a row since losing the belt and there isn’t a clear cut name ahead of him in the middleweight hierarchy, despite what Marvin Vettori might say. Uncle Dana has shown reluctance to pit Whittaker and Adesanya together again, but it’s hard to argue against at this point.
- It’s rare when a heavyweight contest ends up being the best fight on the evening. Credit to Andrei Arlovski and Chase Sherman cause the two big men brought out the best of each other, taking turns trading heavy leather, nearly putting each other to sleep. Both made it to the final bell, with Arlovski taking a razor thin decision.
- Credit to Jacob Malkoun for displaying a high fight IQ in dragging Abdul Razak Alhassan to the ground time and again for the decision victory… but was the dominance more about Alhassan being completely shot? Whatever the reasoning, Malkoun scored his first UFC win while soothing his audience to sleep.
- Do you favor wrestling and control or strikes? I’d imagine your preference would influence how you scored the fight between Tracy Cortez and Justine Kish. The judges preferred the control of Cortez over Kish’s work on the feet. The win keeps Cortez’s push alive while the loss puts the always game Kish on thin ice.
- There was no shortage of controversial decisions on the card, but perhaps the most debated was Luis Pena getting his hand raised in a split decision over Alexander Munoz. While all would agree Pena opened up and took the final frame, most seemed to believe Munoz’s volume, heavy hands, and takedowns in the first two rounds should have given him the decision. Regardless, Pena avoids losing consecutive fights.
- The featured prelim ended on a major down note as Juan Espino delivered a brutal low blow to Alexander Romanov early in the third round, rendering the big Moldovan unable to continue. The resulting technical decision saw Romanov get his hand raised, but not without confusion as there was little to score in the final round after the big men seemed to split the first two rounds.
- Rare is the fighter who secures a win after a four-year absence. GSP comes to mind, but Jessica Penne can be added to that short list, frustrating a debuting Lupita Godinez with her clinch work and constant grappling. Godinez did score a badass jackknife powerbomb in the final frame, but wasn’t active enough with her hands to sway the judges.
- If I were to ask you who the all-time UFC leader in submission victories at middleweight was, would Gerald Meerschaert come to mind? While I doubt many would have that answer, it is fact as the longtime veteran claimed that title with a first round guillotine choke over Bartosz Fabinski.
- No surprise, the UFC made no mention of Dakota Bush’s nickname, “Hairy.” Instead, what we got was a workmanlike performance from Austin Hubbard to spoil Bush’s short notice UFC debut. Bush started well, but the tide turned about halfway through the first and Hubbard controlled the contest from there to take an easy decision.
- Outside of a tight guillotine choke from Anthony Birchak, the curtain jerker was all Tony Gravely. The former collegiate wrestler slammed Birchak to the mat and brutalized him with punches standing and on the mat. Credit to Birchak for staying in there as long as he did, but he ate an insane amount of punishment in a contest that didn’t even make it seven minutes.