Large implications for the UFC Middleweight Division in upcoming events

7 Apr , 2021,

After Francis Ngannou’s stunning knockout over reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Tyrone Woodley’s valiant and frenetic efforts in his submission loss to Vicente Luque at UFC 260, the next UFC events have some living up to do. UFC Fight Night on April 10th brings us a last-minute change in personnel, with American #10 Kevin Holland (21-6-0) taking on Italian #6 Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) in an enticing Middleweight contest to see who climbs up the ladder to eventually challenge champion Israel Adesanya.

Holland steps in as a late replacement with only 2 weeks’ notice for Brit Darren Till, who broke his collarbone. Fresh off a decision loss that snapped his 5 match winning streak only a couple of weeks ago at UFC Vegas 22, Holland will look for a quick turnaround in his fortunes.

Vettori, who has had 60% of his wins come via submission, is looking for his 5th straight win in his quest for a rematch against Adesanya, against whom he had his last loss – an extremely close split decision back in April 2018. He comes in as a very strong (-350) favourite in this fight.

Other Middleweight Contenders also fight later in the month

April 17th’s UFC Fight Night brings us #1 Middleweight contender Robert Whittaker taking on #8 Kelvin Gastelum in an intriguing Australia v USA matchup. Whittaker, a former Middleweight champion, who has only had 1 loss since 2014, has been a perennial stalwart of his division. Gastelum, with only 1 win out of his last 4, will have his work cut out for him, and will go into the fight as a +125 underdog.

This fight has been a long time coming. They were originally scheduled to fight for the Middleweight title in February 2019, when Whittaker pulled out just hours before due to a collapsed bowel and an internal hernia. And indeed, this fight was meant to be between Whittaker and #2 Paolo Costa, who pulled out due to Covid complications. So, Gastelum was a late addition to the card.

UFC Betting Markets, Odds, And Free Bets

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Adesanya looking over his shoulder at next two headline fights

The winner of both the above fights should have a solid chance to be entered into an eliminator for a title fight against champion Adesanya. (See the entire list of middleweight contenders here.)

Having lost his first MMA fight at UFC 259, at the Light Heavyweight division to Jan Błachowicz, he will be keeping a close eye on both these fights. He has already dispatched the challengers ranked 1,2,4 and 8 (Whittaker, Costa, Derek Brunson, Gastelum) during his vice grip on the Middleweight division since April 2019. Both Gastelum and Vettori would be considerable challenges for him.

The one he’d fear the most, is Vettori, as their fight was extremely close, and Vettori has since climbed the rankings considerably. Gastelum also pushed him to the brink for 5 full rounds in 2019, in what was widely considered the fight of the year.