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UFC Vegas 24 results: Robert Whittaker outclasses Kelvin Gastelum, wants rematch with Israel Adesanya

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UFC Fight Night: Whittaker v Gastelum Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker delivered a masterful performance over five rounds at UFC Vegas 24, outstriking a tough Kelvin Gastelum to secure a unanimous decision in his third fight since losing the title to Israel Adesanya.

Whittaker took home unanimous scores of 50-45 with superior accuracy and timing, punching between Gastelum’s attacks to damage the one-time interim title challenger repeatedly in the main event on Saturday at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

“I feel on top of the world,” said Whittaker, who was initially scheduled to face Paulo Costa before the one-time title challenger withdrew from the fight. “Obviously, this was a very hard fight. I think a lot of people were selling Kelvin short for where he was in the rankings. He’s one of the best fighters in the division, and that was a tough fight.”

The matchup was three years in the making after Whittaker and Gastelum’s meeting as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 28 was cancelled by Whittaker’s last-second health issues at UFC 234. But very early in the fight, the superior fighter was clear.

Gastelum never stopped coming forward, swinging heavy shots as he attempted to corner Whittaker. Most of the time, he was stung by a jab or a straight right before he landed, though he left the ex-champ with a swollen left eye and bloody nose with the work he did.

“We were preparing for Costa initially,” said Whittaker. “Speed was the key, and I worked my standup a lot. We just got my hands to the next level.”

The fight nearly ended early as Whittaker disguised a head kick with a one-two, and a left hook to the temple left Gastelum on wobbly legs. When Gastelum tried to get one back, Whittaker ducked under for an easy takedown.

That pattern would repeat itself over 25 minutes with minor variations as Whittaker stayed one step ahead of Gastelum. If a title shot was on the line, Whittaker left no doubt he was ready for a rematch with Adesanya, who knocked him out in October 2019.

Asked for his thoughts on a potential title shot, Whittaker kept it classy.

“Nothing but respect,” said Whittaker, who beat Darren Till and Jared Cannonier in his two previous appearances. “He’s a great fighter. But I think it’s about time we crossed paths once again. They might just open up the borders for Australia in September. Let’s make that happen. Let’s see if we can get a stadium back home.”

That sentiment wasn’t exactly reflected by Adesanya, who tweeted after the fight, “Good job, my son.”

“It’s him,” Whittaker replied. “It is what it is. He gets the trash talking, right? He beat me last time. But I’m going to work hard, and I think I’ve got some tricks he hasn’t seen yet.”

With contender Marvin Vettori sitting cageside, the race for the next middleweight title challenger is well underway.