On Saturday, April 17th, the UFC will be live from their Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC on ESPN 22: Whittaker vs Gastelum also known as UFC Vegas 24.
The featured fight of the night is a middleweight title eliminator as Robert Whittaker battles Kelvin Gastelum. The semi-main event of the evening is a lightweight battle between longtime UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens and Drakkar Klose.
The UFC on ESPN 22 main card consists of six bouts and is set to begin at 10PM ET on ESPN and ESPN+. The seven fight preliminary card has a 7pm ET start time.
Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the latest UFC on ESPN 22 betting odds courtesy of the best UFC betting sites, identify any betting value, and TKO these predictions with a flying knee.
Ricardo Ramos was originally set to face Zubaira Tukhugov four weeks ago, but the latter withdrew from the fight. The UFC decided to rebook Ramos with Bill Algeo for this event instead of waiting for Tukhugov to be ready.
Ramos made the following comments about facing Algeo instead:
“He’s a well-rounded guy and I’ve been watching one of his fights every day, working on studying his abilities. I feel like it’s a good fight, a good replacement — completely different from the one I was going to have — but I feel good. If there is somebody to face, that’s all I needed. Doesn’t matter if he’s tall or short — I’ll be ready for him.”
Ramos has been with the UFC for over four years and has compiled a record of 5-2 inside the octagon. He’s gone 2-2 in his last four fights with a loss in his last outing which came in July 2020 against Lerone Murphy via 1st round TKO. The defeat snapped a two fight winning streak.
Ramos suffered the first pro loss of his career when he faced Said Nurmagomedov 26 months ago via 1st round TKO. 10 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of submission. He’s 4-0 when going the distance.
Algeo appeared on DWCS in June 2019 and lost via decision to Brendan Loughnane. He then returned to regional promotions before getting the call back to come to the UFC last summer where he lost to Ricardo Lamos via decision.
“Senor Perfecto” bounced back in his next fight when he beat Spike Carlyle in November via decision. Nine of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of submission. He’s 5-3 when going the distance.
Algeo made the following prediction about his upcoming fight with Ramos:
“He’s OK. He’s going to try to take my back. He’ll try to strike and try to do some flashy stuff. He’s a young guy and that stuff is just not going to work on me. He’s going to lose confidence in his striking then he’s going to go for the take-down, but I’m bigger. I’ve got better wrestling and I’m going to have a better striking arsenal. I’ve seen him quit in fights. Once I put that pressure on, he’ll be looking for a way out of there.”
Ramos was disappointing in his last fight against Murphy, but I expect him to learn from his mistake and bounce back with a win against Algeo this Saturday.
The Team Alpha Male fighter is giving up a few inches in height and reach, but he’s been the more proven commodity in the UFC compared to Algeo.
Since Algeo’s last three losses have come via decision, I believe he will push this fight Over 2.5 rounds (-200) and the full distance (-175). Unfortunately, he will fall short and lose via unanimous decision to Ramos who will outwork him.
The best betting value at online sports betting sites for this matchup is with each fighter’s moneyline.
Bill Algeo vs. Ricardo Ramos –Ramos (+105)
Over 2.5 rounds (-200)
Fight goes the distance (-175)
Ramos wins via decision (+215)
Luis Pena vs. Alex Munoz
Luis Pena (-145)
Alex Munoz (+125)
Over (-190)/Under (+165) 2.5 rounds
If you’ve followed my UFC betting coverage over the last few years, then you already know my affinity for Pena’s nickname “Violent Bob Ross.” It’s the reason why I root for him in his fights.
Yet, I can’t help rooting for Alex Munoz in this contest due to the story of how he dealt with some carjackers recently after they stole his car.
Munoz, who trains with Team Alpha Male and lives in my hometown of Sacramento, had his car stolen and went out to find it. As someone who’s dealt with this in the past, I can relate all too well with Munoz’s experience except I didn’t have the same ending as he did.
Eventually, Munoz found his car and had a physical altercation with one of the thieves. Can you guess who won this encounter?
Munoz got his car and his gear back. He’s also looking to also get back into the win column this weekend as Munoz lost in his last fight against Haqparast via decision in August 2020.
This weekend’s bout against Pena marks his second trip inside the octagon. Three of his six pro wins have come via stoppage with two by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Pena debuted with the UFC in the summer of 2018. He started off 3-1 inside the octagon before dropping two of his last three fights.
Pena last competed in June 2020 and lost via 3rd round submission to Khama Worthy, which was a surprise considering that Luis was supposed to be the better submission specialist.
Six of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission. He’s 2-2 when going the distance.
I like the Over 2.5 rounds (-190) and for this fight to go the full 15 minutes (-165). Pena has gone the distance in two of his last three bouts while Munoz has gone to a decision in four straight contests.
As for the winner, I am going with Pena to pull out a split decision victory (+170). The moneyline for each fighter offers the best value in this matchup.
Luis Pena vs. Alex Munoz –Pena (-145)
Over 2.5 rounds (-190)
Fight goes the distance (-165)
Pena wins via decision (+170)
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Jacob Malkoun
Abdul Razak Alhassan (-300)
Jacob Malkoun (+250)
Over (+105)/Under (-125) 1.5 rounds
Malkoun comes into this matchup as the largest underdog for the main card and the second largest underdog for the entire event. This will be his second trip inside the octagon.
He debuted in the UFC last October and lost via 1st round KO in 18 seconds to Phil Hawes. It wasn’t the first impression that he wanted to make with the promotion. This was the first defeat of his career and it snapped a four fight winning streak.
Half of his four pro wins have come via TKO/KO and the other half have come via decision. He’s 2-0 when going the distance.
Alhassan is coming off a two fight losing streak after returning to the octagon following a near-two year hiatus. He had won three fights in a row before his return to the UFC where he suffered a decision defeat to Mounir Lazzez.
Four months later, Alhassan was KO’d in 30 seconds by Kalinn Williams which was a bitter defeat. He’s looking to bounce back this weekend and get his first win since September 2018.
All 10 of his pro wins have come via stoppage. He’s 0-2 when going the distance.
Combined, these two fighters have seen 14 of their 18 pro fights end via TKO/KO. I expect this weekend’s contest to end in the same fashion. Additionally, 13 of their 18 total fights have ended in the first round.
I like this fight to end inside the distance (-265) and Under 1.5 rounds (+105). As for the winner, I’m going with Alhassan in this matchup. I believe this bout is a “get right” fight for “Judo Thunder” as the promotion aims to get him back in the win column.
Alhassan will win this fight via 1st round TKO/KO (-150). The best value for this matchup is Alhassan winning inside the distance at -140.
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Jacob Malkoun –Alhassan (-300)
Under 1.5 rounds (+105)
Fight ends inside the distance (-265)
Alhassan wins inside the distance (-140)
Alhassan wins via TKO/KO (-150)
Andrei Arlovski vs. Chase Sherman
Andrei Arlovski (-125)
Chase Sherman (+105)
Over (-150)/Under (+130) 2.5 rounds
This heavyweight contest was originally booked for Chase Sherman to take on Parker Porter. However, Porter withdrew from the fight due to undisclosed reasons and Andrei Arlovski agreed to take his spot on less than two weeks’ notice.
This is Sherman’s second stint with the UFC. His first run with the company was from 2016 to 2018 where he compiled a 2-5 record and was given the axe after three straight losses.
He moved on to Square Ring Promotions and won three fights in a row before being given a second chance to return to the octagon 11 months ago. Sherman won in his return via 2nd round TKO against Isaac Villanueva. He currently sports a four fight win streak.
With Parker Porter out, Andrei Arlovski steps in to face Chase Sherman at UFC on ESPN 22 https://t.co/30TQ4Kwp1Y
The veteran Andrei Arlovski has had a long, distinguished career that we won’t go over in this article. Yet, I must mention that I’m very surprised he’s still in the UFC considering other heavyweights like Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem were recently released.
Arlovski has gone 3-5 in his last eight fights with one NC along the way. He last competed in February and suffered a defeat to Tom Aspinall via 2nd round submission. That was just the second submission defeat of his career.
20 of his 30 pro wins have come via stoppage with 17 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 10-7 when going the distance and has 11 defeats via TKO/KO.
I think one of the reasons that Arlovski jumped at the chance to be the replacement fighter in this contest is because he matches up really well with Sherman.
This is going to be a striking battle where someone is going to eat a TKO/KO. Combined, these two men have seen 46 of their fights end via TKO/KO. It also means to go with the Under 2.5 rounds (+130) and for the fight to end inside the distance (+105).
As for the winner, I am going with Arlovski. He looked good in his two fights against Philipe Lins and Tanner Boser last year where both men were rising prospects. Yet, Arlovski beat them both via decision.
Since he doesn’t have to worry about being taken to the mat in this Saturday’s contest, I expect the ageless veteran to unleash his hands and score a TKO/KO win. I don’t see Sherman being on the same level as Lins and Boser.
The value is with each fighter’s moneyline.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Chase Sherman –Arlovski (-125)
Under 2.5 rounds (+130)
Fight ends inside the distance (+105)
Arlovski wins inside the distance (+320)
Arlovski wins via TKO/KO (+450)
Jeremy Stephens vs. Drakkar Klose
Jeremy Stephens (-120)
Drakkar Klose (+100)
Over (-160)/Under (+225) 2.5 rounds
Drakkar Klose has been with the UFC since the beginning of 2017 and has compiled a 5-2 record inside the octagon. He last fought 13 months ago and lost via 2nd round KO to Beneil Dariush. The loss snapped a three fight win streak.
Four of his 11 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 7-1-1 when going the distance. The KO loss to Dariush was the first time that Drakkar has been stopped in his pro career.
Speaking of his career, Klose is considering a move down to featherweight following this weekend’s fight:
“If I go out there and do what I think I am going to do to him I might drop down to 45. I’ve been comfortable doing what I’ve been doing for so long. Maybe it’s time to switch it up and see the way things play out.”
Klose’s plan is the opposite of what Stephens has done. “Lil Heathen” has spent the last nine years down in the featherweight division where he went 8-9. Stephens is 15-17 overall inside the octagon.
He decided to move up to lightweight for this fight against Klose. It’s the first time since 2012 that he’s competed in the 155 pound weight class.
This move is a desperate one for Stephens as he could be facing the axe with a loss on Saturday. Stephens has gone winless in his last five fights which includes four losses.
His last fight came 11 months ago where he lost via 2nd round KO to Calvin Kattar. It’s been over three years since Stephens’ last victory which came in February 2018 via 2nd round KO over Josh Emmett.
21 of his 28 pro wins have come via stoppage with 19 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-12 when going the distance.
Let’s get the easy wagers out of the way first. Take the Over 2.5 rounds (-160) and for this fight to go the distance (-140). Klose has gone the distance in eight of his last nine bouts. Stephens has gone to a decision in 19 of his 32 UFC fights.
This is a tough fight to predict. Will it be the end of an era or will Stephens live to fight another day? I’m having a hard time picking between the two, so I will go with Stephens and hope that he can fend off a potential firing.
The value is with each fighter’s moneyline.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Drakkar Klose –Stephens (-120)
Over 2.5 rounds (-160)
Fight goes the distance (-140)
Stephens wins via decision (+200)
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Robert Whittaker (-250)
Kelvin Gastelum (+210)
Over (-135)/Under (+115) 4.5 rounds
The main event of the night is a battle of top ranked middleweights as the #1 ranked Robert Whittaker takes on the 8th ranked Kelvin Gastelum. This bout was originally scheduled for Paulo Costa and Whittaker, but Costa withdrew due to an injury.
Many of you might recall that this fight was supposed to take place in late 2018 or early 2019 at the latest. It was meant to decide who the best middleweight was at the time.
Unfortunately, Whittaker was forced out of the fight due to various health issues and Gastelum went on to face Adesanya in arguably the best fight of the year.
Gastelum lost that fight via decision which began a three fight skid that also saw Kelvin lose to Till via split decision and to Hermansson via 1st round submission. He was able to snap the three fight skid with a decision win over Ian Heinisch two months ago.
10 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 6-4 when going the distance.
Whittaker has won two straight fights since losing to Adesanya in October 2019 via 2nd round KO. He took time off to heal his injuries and refocus following the disappointing loss.
Whittaker came back in the summer of 2020 and scored a unanimous decision win over Darren Till. He followed that up with a unanimous decision win over Jared Cannonier in October.
14 of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of TKO/KO. He’s 8-2 when going the distance.
Despite the last minute change between Costa and Gastelum, Whittaker felt confident in his new opponent due to his prior preparations for a bout against Kelvin in the past.
Robert Whittaker thinks highly of his #UFCVegas24 opponent.
He respects Gastelum as a fighter and appreciates that he stepped up to replace Costa, but Whittaker believes he will be too much for Gastelum to handle:
“I think I’m going to be too much for him. My striking is too crisp. I think it’s too fast. I think I’ve got too many weapons. He may try to take me down a couple of times, and I only think it’ll work to his detriment because it’s a five-round fight and wrestling takes it out of you. I think I put him away in the second.”
As much as I believe in Whittaker, I don’t see “The Reaper” being able to put away Gastelum in the 2nd round. Instead, I see this bout going Over 4.5 rounds (-135) and the full distance (-130). Both Gastelum, and Whittaker have gone the distance in four of their last five bouts.
If this was late 2018 or early 2019 then I could see why pundits were giving the edge to Gastelum. His ability to get in and out of the pocket along with his wrestling and power would’ve been too much for a limited Whittaker at that time.
However, a healthy and happy Whittaker looks like a fighter reborn. His striking and footwork have been stellar in his last two fights and I believe it will be too much for Gastelum to overcome.
This is going to be a very competitive main event bout and one where I see Whittaker getting his hand raised in the end.
“Bobby Knuckles” will put on a masterful performance in this middleweight main event fight and earn his long-awaited rematch against Israel Adesanya who Whittaker is very motivated to face.
As for Gastelum, the loss will sting, but it shouldn’t hurt his ranking too much. He will still be a Top 10 middleweight.
Hopefully we will see Whittaker vs Adesanya II later this year. Since Adesanya lost in the fight against Blachowicz, he’s going to just focus on the middleweight division for the foreseeable future.
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum –Whittaker (-250)
Over 4.5 rounds (-135)
Fight goes the distance (-130)
Whittaker wins via decision (+135)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …