UFC stages another exciting night of live action with Till vs Whittaker top of the bill. Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse breaks down a competitive betting market...
"Whittaker did win each of his previous nine fights with five of those by decision."
Back to the island
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is back this weekend for another hotly anticipated fight night from Yasi Island, Abu Dhabi. A seven-bout main card boasting some of the top names in the sport is backed by an intriguing preliminary card. Armchair fans can follow all the action on BT Sport on Saturday evening into the early hours of Sunday morning.
Main event comes in the form of Darren Till vs Robert Whittaker in the middleweight division and this is a bout that has kept fans guessing in the build-up, not to mention the Betfair trading team who are struggling to nail down a favourite. That'll be music to the ears of UFC supporters eager to take advantage of any indecision.
Gorilla scores winning debut at middleweight
Former UFC welterweight champion Till takes part in his first outing since beating Kelvin Gastelum on a split decision on UFC 244 in New York last November. That narrow victory for the 27-year-old from Liverpool moved his professional record to 18 wins against two defeats. Of his positives, The Gorilla has claimed 10 by knockout, six by decision and only two by submission.
Despite an impressive CV it should be noted that each of Till's two defeats have come in his last three bouts. He suffered his first loss against Tyron Woodley on UFC 228 in the summer of 2018 before he was KO'd by Jorge Masvidal next time out just six months later. He enters this test with confidence, however, having won on his debut at 185 pounds last time. Back-to-back wins would help Till climb the middleweight rankings and Whittaker's name on his record would send out a real statement of intent to the rest of the division.
Till is marginal second favourite to get the desired result here with evens trading on the Betfair Sportsbook. There's more to be had in the method of victory betting where a Till KO/TKO is chalked up at 23/10. The decision is 4/1 or a submission win will net backers 18/1.
The Reaper looking to bounce back
Opponent Whittaker is a former UFC middleweight champion and a fighter confident in his ability to defeat Till and move back towards the big time. The 29-year-old from Australia stands at 6ft tall and has a professional MMA record detailing 20 wins against five defeats. Comfortable with all aspects of the sport, The Reaper has bagged almost half of his wins by knockout, nine coming by KO/TKO. He has been knocked out twice himself, however, including against Israel Adesanya in his most recent bout. Does he have what it takes to get his career back on track?
Whittaker lost his UFC championship belt in October of last year before a Melbourne audience, finished inside two rounds by Adesanya. A tough defeat to come back from but Whittaker did win each of his previous nine fights with five of those by decision. If the former middleweight champion can find a way to secure his 21st career win he could expect to be in the frame for a shot at regaining his belt some time later this year.
Betfair Sportsbook users will find Whittaker as favourite in the fight winner market but there's not much in it at present. Those expecting Whittaker to get back to winning ways can back him at 4/5. Looking to take a bit more of a chance in the method of victory market? There's 13/5 on a KO/TKO, 11/4 the decision or a chunky 16/1 about a submission win.
Experience gives Whittaker the edge
Till has spoken to the sporting press about his striking skills being superior to that of his opponent but he was taken the distance at middleweight last time. Darren recorded his most recent knockout win back in 2017 when stopping Donald Cerrone in Poland and that was at welterweight. That won't do much to inspire confidence in backers.
Whittaker is experienced at the weight and is former UFC champion who only lost his belt in his last fight. That defeat brought an end to a winning run stretching back to 2014. That should give him the edge the longer this bout goes. The stats show four of Whittaker's last six victories have come by decision. More of the same here is sure to be popular.