Robert Whittaker has secured his third straight win, earning a dominant decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24 at the UFC Apex.
All three judges scored the fight 50-45 for the Aussie, who put on a masterful performance.
This fight was a long time in the making, the two men originally supposed to fight for the middleweight title at UFC 234 in Melbourne back in February 2019 until Whittaker pulled out with a hernia hours before the fight.
Originally scheduled to fight Paulo Costa, Gastelum stepped in last month after Costa pulled out of the fight due to sickness.
Whittaker dominated the first round, landing his signature left punch to a right high kick, wobbling Gastelum before securing a takedown and riding out the remainder of the round on the ground.
The second and third rounds were more competitive but Whittaker was still able to control the action, being a step ahead of Gastelum.
Gastelum showed his durability in the fourth, being picked apart by Whittaker for the majority of the round.
Needing a finish Gastelum came out hungry in the fifth, pressuring Whittaker and looking to land a knockout blow but Whittaker was too evasive, continuing to land and ultimately taking the fight to the ground where the fight finished.
The always classy Whittaker gave Gastelum props post fight, complimenting him on his toughness.
“Obviously this was a very hard fight,” Whittaker said.
“I think a lot of people were selling Kelvin short because of where he is ranked and he has had a bit of a spill, but I think he is one of the best fighters in the division.”
Following three successful victories over top contenders, Daren Till, Jared Cannoier and now Gastelum, Whittaker is eyeing a rematch with Middleweight champion Israel Adesnaya.
“I’ve got nothing but respect, honestly he’s a great fighter but I think we should talk mate,” he said.
“I think it is about time we cross paths once again. I think I have got some tricks he hasn’t seen yet and I’ll give him a good run I think.
“Let’s make that happen.”
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Also fighting on the main card was fellow Aussie and teammate Jacob Mulkoun, who earned his first UFC win dominating Abdul Razak Alhassan to earn a decision victory.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27, with Mulkoun taking a wrestling heavy approach.
The Sydney native scored four takedowns in the first round, which proved crucial to tiring the fast starting Alhassan.
A visibly exhausted Alhassan had no answer for the takedowns in the second or third, with Mulkoun implementing a similar game plan by smothering Alhassan with pressure and looking to keep the fight on the ground.
Post-fight Mulkoun spoke about the emphasis him he put on training wrestling for this fight.
“We brought in a lot of wrestlers to help us that compete in Commonwealth games,” he said.
“They say we have no wrestlers in Australia but you just saw some good wrestling.”
This fight was a must win for Mulkoun coming off a disappointing UFC debut, being knocked out against Phil Hawes.
“I’m happy,” he said succinctly.
“From that last fight it wasn’t the easiest thing to overcome but I had the coaches around me who pushed me through.”
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