For the fourth time in organization history, the UFC will visit Melbourne, Australia. UFC 243 takes place Sunday Down Under but Saturday night in the USA and features a middleweight championship unification bout between champion Robert Whittaker and interim champion Israel Adesanya, both of whom are from that part of the world. Here’s a look at the top two bouts and their UFC betting odds.
UFC 243 Odds, Whittaker vs Adesanya Betting Preview & Expert Picks
- When: Saturday, 10 PM ET
- Where: Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, Australia
- TV: UFC Network
- Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass
Robert Whittaker (21-4) vs. Israel Adesanya (17-0)
- UFC 243 Odds: Israel Adesanya -120
Adesanya is -120 at Mybookie and Whittaker -110. Whittaker is from Sydney and makes the first official title defense of his career. He won the middleweight belt at UFC 213 by unanimous decision over Yoel Romero. Whittaker won via unanimous decision despite tearing the MCL in his left knee in the opening round.
Those two fought again at UFC 225 and Whittaker won by split decision. After a conservative start, Romero dropped Whittaker with a right hand early in the third round. The shot seemingly came out of nowhere, after Whittaker had his way in the first two rounds. Romero dropped Whittaker a second time with a left hand in the fifth — but again, Whittaker survived. Two judges scored the contest 48-47 for Whittaker, while a third had it 48-47 for Romero. Whittaker had to overcome an injury again as Whittaker hurt his right hand early in the fight.
Whittaker and Romero combined for 239 significant strikes landed at UFC 225, the single-fight record for a five-fight UFC middleweight fight. However, it was technically a non-title fight because Romero didn’t make wait.
Whittaker hasn’t fought since. He was set to make a title defense against Kelvin Gastelum in February at UFC 234. But Whittaker pulled out of the event a few hours beforehand after he was forced to undergo emergency dual surgery immediately, due to an abdominal hernia of the intestine and a twisted and collapsed bowel. Technically, Whittaker has held a UFC title without making a defense for more than 600 days.
Whittaker is 8-0 since he moved up to the UFC middleweight division in November 2014. Whittaker’s eight-fight UFC winning streak in middleweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.
What about Adesanya?
Adesanya faced Gastelum for the interim UFC middleweight title in April at UFC 236. Adesanya won the fight via unanimous decision in a terrific fight. In the final round, Adesanya bloodied Gastelum and sent him crashing to the canvas. Gastelum stood once again, but Adesanya was unrelenting and dropped him once again, finishing the final round with a barrage of punches on the floor. Adesanya won by scores of 48-46 across the board.
Since he signed with the UFC in 2018, he has responded with one memorable performance after another. And entering Saturday, it’s Adesanya whom people are pegging as the division’s future superstar.
Adesanya is one of 11 fighters in UFC history to win an interim or undisputed title with an undefeated record. Adesanya’s 17-fight winning streak is third longest among active UFC fighters behind Nurmagomedov (28) and Weili Zhang (20).
Adesanya has earned 13 of his 17 career victories by stoppage. All those wins are by knockout. Adesanya defends 85.7 percent of all opponent takedown attempts in UFC middleweight competition, the second best rate in divisional history behind Krzysztof Jotko (86 percent).
Al Iaquinta (14-5-1) vs. Dan Hooker (19-8)
- UFC 243 Odds: Dan Hooker -170
Hooker is -175 for this lightweight bout with Iaquinta +140. Once on a five-fight win streak, Iaquinta was a replacement opponent for Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. While he lost, Iaquinta impressed many for going the full five rounds. Since then, Iaquinta beat Kevin Lee via unanimous decision before losing to Donald Cerrone in May via unanimous decision.
Although Iaquinta was the betting favorite going into the fight, Cerrone turned the fight into his favor from the moment he landed a knockdown at the end of the third round. Iaquinta said he had every chance to win the fight, but Cerrone’s veteran experience was ultimately too much on the night.
“I broke my nose, I fractured my (right) orbital bone and had some deep bruising on my legs because of those kicks,” Iaquinta said after. “(The bruising from the kicks) was brutal.”
Iaquinta has earned five of his nine UFC victories by decision. Iaquinta’s seven knockdowns landed in UFC lightweight competition are tied for third most among active fighters in the weight class behind Donald Cerrone (11) and Edson Barboza (10).
On a four-fight win streak, Hooker lost to Edson Barboza via TKO in December. He rebounded in July, beating James Vick via Round 1 KO. Here, there is the threat of Hooker’s submission game. There was a run of Iaquinta fights where the New Yorker would get himself nearly submitted.
Hooker’s average fight time of 6:31 in UFC lightweight competition is second shortest among active fighters in the weight class behind Charles Oliveira (5:08). Hooker has earned 17 of his 18 career victories by stoppage. That includes all eight of his UFC wins.
Expert UFC 243 Betting PicksWhittaker by stoppage and Hooker by decision.
Rest of the UFC 243 Card
- Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergey Spivak
- Luke Jumeau vs. Dhiego Lima
- Justin Tafa vs. Yorgan De Castro
- Jake Matthews vs. Rostam Akman
- Callan Potter vs. Maki Pitolo
- Jamie Mullarkey vs. Brad Riddell
- Megan Anderson vs. Zarah Fairn dos Santos
- Nadia Kassem vs. Ji Yeon Kim
- Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Silva