UFC Vegas 24: Whittaker vs Gastelum – Early prelims predictions

The middleweight division continues to move on at UFC Vegas 24 as Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker takes on short-notice replacement Kelvin Gastelum in the main event.

Whittaker knows a win cements his place as the number one contender for a potential rematch with Israel Adesanya, while Gastelum looks to get back to the sort of run that saw him fight Adesanya in an interim title fight two short years ago.

In the co-main event, Jeremy Stephens makes a return to the lightweight division for the first time since 2012 when he takes on heavy hitter Drakkar Klose at 155lbs.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 23 we had a pretty good night, going 9/13 with four perfect picks to take our total up to 279/439 (63.55%) with 125 perfect picks (44.8%).

We’ll look to improve that with this 12 fight card, starting with the early prelims here.

Tony Gravely (20-6) vs Anthony Birchak (16-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight fight to open this card up as two fairly new fighters in the company go head-to-head. Gravely is 1-1 in the UFC, losing his debut to Brett Johns before returning with a split decision win over Geraldo de Freitas Jr in November. Birchak made his debut in November too at UFC Vegas 13 and was beaten on short notice by Gustavo Lopez via first-round submission.

Gravely is only 5ft 5 but is always looking to wrestle his opponents down to the ground and stay heavy on top and work his ground and pound game. Birchak on the other hand has some pretty decent takedown defence and has a more than decent submission game. Despite that though, this fight looks pretty lopsided.

Gravely is a primary wrestler and Birchak has been dominated by them in the past. His best chance to snatch a neck on a takedown, but Gravely is too experienced to get caught with that and he should be able to cruise to a dominant decision win.
PICK – Tony Gravely via Decision

Austin Hubbard (12-5) vs Dakota Bush (8-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A lightweight fight between the very popular Austin Hubbard as he takes on the best nickname in the UFC, Dakota ‘Hairy’ Bush. Hubbard has alternated losses and wins in all five of his UFC fights, going 2-3 so far with a defeat to Joe Solecki last time out at at UFC Vegas 7 after beating Max Roshkopf at UFC Vegas 3 when he forced him to retire on his stall.

Hubbard has some good striking on the feet and his defensive wrestling is pretty good considering, while Bush is a primary wrestler. Stepping in on just one week’s notice that could’ve been a problem, but Bush isn’t as good a wrestler as Hubbard’s original opponent. That should mean the fight gets kept standing and both guys are capable on the feet, but Hubbard is the better striker and with his excellent cardio he could potentially get a late finish too.
PICK – Austin Hubbard via Knockout, Round 3

Zarah Fairn (6-4) vs Josiane Nunes (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting women’s bantamweight fight as the once highly touted Zarah Fairn takes on debutant Josiane Nunes. Fairn entered the UFC as a featherweight but was easily stopped in the first round by both Megan Anderson and then Felicia Spencer. Nunes has won six in a row coming into this, including her last five via knockout.

Fairn is a well-rounded fighter with a mix of everything in her game, but her clinches are excellent and with Nunes only 5ft 2′ knees could be a very clear path to victory. Nunes on the other hand is a power puncher with a good low kick to set up her overhand, but other than that there isn’t much to her game.

It won’t be the most high quality scrap on the card and I think Fairn will use her reach and size to be able to get the first win of her UFC career.
PICK – Zarah Fairn via Decision


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