Our final fight island card is here, and it is headlined by former champion Robert Whittaker, who looks to bounce back to the winners list against Britain’s star striker, Darren Till, who aims to put together back to back wins, building on his win over Kelvin Gastelum. We have 15 fights of wild action to look forward to and a few nice betting angles to explore.
Robert Whittaker returns for the first time since losing the belt to Israel Adesanya and there is no way to sugar coat it, it was a bad loss. Whittaker is often portrayed as the tough but nice guy who will stand and trade and overcome adversity, but he is a lot more than that. Against Adesanya he struggled with not being the more technical striker and getting inside the reach of Adesanya which ultimately was his downfall. Whittaker again meets a rangy striker, but I do see this going quite different than his last fight as he has the skillset to dismantle Till’s game. Till is a power puncher but how his gas tank will hold over 5 rounds against the relentless pressure of Whittaker is a query. Yes, he won a five-round decision over Stephen Thompson, but I doubt this fight will be a technical battle at range.
Till has a boxing heavy style and Whittaker will likely employ a leg kick heavy fight and outpoint and outscore Till. I do fear for Whittaker’s chin as he has been dropped repeatedly lately, being knocked down four times in his last two fights, however, he has shown grit to fight through bad situations and survive before. I also believe if Whittaker is struggling with the stand up (which I don’t think he will), he can take this to the ground and has a fantastic jiu jitsu game that although is almost never used, is incredibly crisp from the glimpses I have seen. We have also seen Till submitted by Woodley and personally I believe Whittaker has a stronger jiu jitsu game than him. I do believe Whittaker is a better all-round striker and is a little underestimated in this fight as a result of the Adesanya loss and two close decision victories over Yoel Romero. Rob bounces back into the title picture here and in style.
This is one of the stranger fights but one where I see the likely outcome being an Aspinall finish. Aspinall has gone from MMA to boxing and now back to MMA and from the time away where he picked up some boxing experience, has led him to come back a more complete fighter. This is evident by two quick finishes in Cage Warriors, both in under two minutes. His opponent Collier has been out since 2017 due to injuries and now meets a guy that is at least 20 pounds heavier. Aspinall is more active, stronger and faster and this really should be routine on the feet for him. If by any chance this does go to the ground, Aspinall has an array of submission finishes in his arsenal which has seen him score submission wins such as arm triangle wins and a heel hook victory. This really should be easy work for Aspinall who should put away Collier swiftly.
Our final selection is a multi of two favourites on the prelims and the explanation for each is below.
Nathaniel Wood vs John Castaneda
Nathaniel Wood has plenty of hype behind him but has shown that he has some issues with his striking defense. Luckily for him, his wrestling chops, brute power for the division and submission skills is all the tools he needs to take this fight. Castaneda is weak off the back foot and doesn’t have the power to put Wood out with one strike, which he needs if he is to take this fight. I expect Wood to earn another stoppage victory but will go with the safe bet of him to just get the win. Wood has a lot to improve but this match up won’t truly test if he has made the proper adjustments since his last loss.
TIP: Wood to win ($1.22 Bet365)
Raphael Pessoa vs Tanner Boser
Not much explaining needed for this one. Both are almost certainly going to engage in what is a striking fight and Boser both is more technical and hits harder than Pessoa. I don’t believe Boser will knock out Pessoa though as he is quite tough and durable. This is a much harder fight for Pessoa than the one he won against Hughes who threw with limited output and this will be a rough one for him.
TIP: Boser to win ($1.40 Bet365)
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