The Ultimate Fighting Championship brings a blockbuster event Down Under this Saturday, October 5th, for UFC 243 from Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The main card culminates in a feature that fight fans have long awaited: Robert Whittaker defending the UFC Middleweight title against undefeated Nigerian-New Zealander and current interim Middleweight title-holder Israel Adesanya. Although Holly Holm vs. Racquel Pennington 2 was scrapped due to Holm suffering a hamstring injury, the main card is still stacked with action: New Zealand’s Luke Jumeau takes on Dhiego Lima, Tai Tuivasa squares off with Sergey Spivac, and in the co-main event, Serra-Longo’s Al Iaquinta takes on Dan Hooker. Follow along as we break down each of the four main card matchups from UFC 243, and we’ll give the current betting odds and our predictions to how we see each fight going down.
Luke Jumeau (13-4 ) vs. Dhiego Lima (14-7)
Odds as of 9/30/19: Dhiego Lima -150, Luke Jumeau +130
In the opening act of the main card of UFC 243, Luke Jumeau looks to dethrone a UFC veteran in Dhiego Lima. Although Lima enters this one a slight favorite, Jumeau will be stepping into the Octagon with the momentum. Lima has won his last 2, most recently a split-decision over Court McGee back in April. However, Lima hasn’t ever really been able to string together many victories in his long-standing UFC career, going 5-6 in his 11 fights with the organization. Luke Jumeau’s trajectory has been on a distinctively different path. The New Zealand native has won 8 of his last 9, including a 7-fight win streak leading up to his UFC debut in 2017. Jumeau’s last fight was in February of 2018 though, and it will be interesting to see if ring rust plays a factor in his return to the cage.
Prediction: Luke Jumeau, decision
Tai Tuivasa (8-2) vs. Sergey Spivak (9-1)
Odds as of 9/30/19: Sergey Spivak +310, Tai Tuivasa -370
Next, Australia’s Tai Tuivasa enters this fight as the largest favorite on the card. The Heavyweight hurled himself onto the fight scene with an 8-0 professional record (3-0 in the UFC). Tuivasa, however, fell short in his last two; a devastating second-round knockout to Junior dos Santos in late 2018 and a decision loss to Blagoy Ivanov in June of this year. Spivak is making only his second UFC appearance, after being brutally knocked out by Walt Harris in his UFC debut in less than 1 minute. Look for Tuivasa to rebound big against Spivak and get his fledgling career back on the winning track.
Prediction: Tai Tuivasa, second-round knockout
Al Iaquinta (14-5-1) vs. Dan Hooker (18-8)
Odds as of 9/30/19: Al Iaquinta +140, Dan Hooker -160
Next up on the card, “Raging” Al Iaquinta goes against Dan Hooker in the co-main event of the evening. Iaquinta has won 6 of his last 8, taking on a who’s who in the UFC Lightweight division, with victories over Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, Diego Sanchez and Kevin Lee. Iaquinta went the distance with Donald Cerrone and Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he’s proven time and again that he’s one of the toughest fighters in the division. Dan Hooker is coming off of a huge first-round knockout of James Vick back in July, and he’s won 5 of his last 6. That being said, Hooker hasn’t won a decision since 2011, and Iaquinta hasn’t been stopped since 2014.
Prediction: Al Iaquinta, decision
Robert Whittaker (20-4) vs. Israel Adesanya (17-0)
Odds as of 9/30/19: Israel Adesanya -110, Robert Whittaker -110
In one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the year, interim Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya looks to unify the belt by taking on current and longstanding champion Robert Whittaker in the main event. Adesanya is undefeated, and he’s coming off of a dynamite unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum back at UFC 236. He’s 6-0 in the UFC in less than a year-and-a-half, and he’s got wins over Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva. Whittaker has been on an absolute tear in the UFC over the last 5 and-a-half years, going 9-0 with wins over Brad Tavares, Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero (twice). The fight is currently a pick’em, but Adesanya’s last fight with Kelvin Gastelum exposed vulnerabilities that a monster like Robert Whittaker can easily exploit when he’s healthy.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker, third-round knockout
Safest pick: Tai Tuivasa over Sergey Spivak
Best chance for an upset: Al Iaquinta over Dan Hooker
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