- Date & Location: Saturday, August 21 @ UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Odds: Jared Cannonier (-155) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (+130) via Bovada
- Prediction: Cannonier via decision,
On Saturday, August 21, Jared Cannonier looks to get back in the win column when he faces Kelvin Gastelum, who is also coming off a loss, in the main event of UFC Vegas 34.
Cannonier, who is the No. 3 ranked fighter in the official UFC middleweight rankings, was on a three-fight winning streak before he faced former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in October. Whittaker ended Cannonier’s run of three straight TKO wins via decision at UFC 254.
This UFC initially booked Cannonier vs. Paulo Costa, but when Costa, who is ranked at No. 2, pulled out of the fight, saying he never signed the bout agreement, Gastelum stepped up and took the matchup. Gastelum, who fought for the interim middleweight title in 2019 — losing to Israel Adesanya — is 1-4 in his past five outings. His one win was a decision victory over Ian Heinisch in February of this year. Gastelum is ranked No. 9 in the official UFC middleweight rankings.
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CANNONIER vs. GASTELUM PREDICTION & PICK
I understand why Gastelum stepped up and accepted this fight, but I don’t think it was a wise decision. Gastelum sees a win over Cannonier as a way back into the mix in the middleweight division. Since he lost to Adesanya, Gastelum has slipped down the rankings and his standing with the promotion has fallen as well. A win here would be a redemptive victory. I don’t think there’s much of a chance of that happening.
With that being said, there is a chance Gastelum pulls off an upset victory.
Nine of Cannonier’s 13 wins have come by knockout and three of his five losses have come by decision. Gastelum has never been knocked out. Gastelum has gone the five-round distance on three occasions in the UFC. Cannonier has never gone five rounds in the UFC. If Gastelum can extend the fight five rounds, which I think he can, he has a chance to win. However, to get the nod, Gastelum has to land more damaging blows on a fighter who is known as one of the most powerful strikers in the 185-pound division. I don’t think Gastelum can do that.
Prediction: Cannonier -152 via BetOnline.
BETTING VALUE WITH CANNONIER
Let’s first look at Gastelum. He might be undersized for a middleweight, but he is a tough out. He has gone five rounds with current UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and former 185-pound kingpin Robert Whittaker. Yes, Gastelum lost both of those bouts, but both were “Fight of the Night” bonus winners, as was his five-round loss to Neil Magny. Gastelum is game and if you have any doubts about Cannonier lasting five rounds and getting the nod from the judges, it’s not a bad idea to take a flyer on Gastelum via decision.
Despite Gastelum’s toughness and ability, I think Cannonier will accumulate enough damage and score enough points with the judges to get the decision win. I also believe there is an outside chance that Cannonier scores the first knockout win over Gastelum, who has been in some wars over the years.
My thoughts on this fight are that Cannonier dominates over the early going, but does not get Gastelum out and wins a decision over five rounds.
Pick: Cannonier via decision -152 via SportsBetting.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Physically, Cannonier has the advantage in size, reach and power. He is also more active and more accurate in his striking and better in his defense. From what we know, Gastelum has the advantage in toughness. I think Cannonier’s physical strengths and his fighting ability are enough to get him the win, but I can’t stress enough how much Gastelum’s intangibles make him a live underdog in this matchup.
FIGHT STATS: CANNONIER vs. GASTELUM
|Jared Cannonier||Category||Kelvin Gastelum|
|3.70||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.52|
|3.09||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.24|
|0.16||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.16|
|0.0||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.1|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is a must win for the 37-year-old Cannonier. If he wants to stay in the title picture and hang on to his top-three status in the middleweight division, he needs to beat Gastelum, who is barely holding onto his spot in the top-10 of the weight class.
As for Gastelum, if he gets an upset victory over the highly ranked Cannonier, the win will go a long way toward erasing the struggles he has had over his past five fights.
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