UFC Fight Night Odds, Prediction: Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov

Payton Matthews | Updated Jun 19, 2024

MMA: UFC 298-Whittaker vs Costa

The main event of the UFC Fight Night card from Saudi Arabia on Saturday afternoon Eastern time features former champion Robert Whittaker in a middleweight bout against short-notice replacement Ikram Aliskerov.

Whittaker is a -150 favourite on the MMA odds with Aliskerov at +125.

Robert Whittaker UFC Odds

The current middleweight champion is Dricus du Plessis, and the 33-year-old Whittaker, from New Zealand, is ranked No. 3 in the division with a career MMA mark of 25-7. At UFC 213 in July 2017, Whittaker beat Yoel Romero for the undisputed middleweight crown and become the first Kiwi champion in the UFC – although Whittaker now resides in Australia. He defended the belt in an immediate rematch against Romero but lost it at UFC 249 to Israel Adesanya by second-round KO.

“The Reaper” got another shot at Adesanya and the title at UFC 271 in February 2022 but lost by unanimous decision. Whittaker then faced du Plessis in a middleweight title eliminator fight in July 2023 and lost by second-round TKO (punches). Whittaker bounced back with a unanimous decision victory over Paulo Costa this past February even though Whittaker was wobbled by a spinning head kick from Costa in the late stages of Round 1.

“I just brushed it off,” he said. “We’re in the fight game. There are moments, there are milliseconds that can change the outcome of the fight. You can’t let off for a second. Sometimes you do everything right and [they] throw a Hail Mary spinning capoeira kick and it’ll land. But I did brush it off.”

Whittaker claims he never heard of Ikram Aliskerov before the fight was announced as Aliskerov is replacing Khamzat Chimaev, who fell “violently ill” and had to withdraw.

“I had a pretty Chimaev-ready game plan,” Whittaker said. “Chimaev’s a pretty unique fighter, and he fights a unique way. So I had a game plan I’d worked for months leading into that. But Ikram brings a different threat to the table. I hadn’t heard of him or seen him fight before that, so sometimes you just got to take things as they come.”

The 6-foot Whittaker has a reach of 73 inches and his fights average 14:07. He lands 4.57 significant strikes per minute with 42 per cent accuracy and absorbs 3.45 with 59 per cent defence. His takedown average is 0.81 per 15 minutes, and his takedown defence is 82 per cent.

Whittaker has 11 wins by decision, nine by KO/TKO and five by submission. His favoured method of victory Saturday is by KO/TKO/DQ at +175, followed by decision at +250 and submission at +1400 with a draw at +5000. Whittaker winning within the first 60 seconds is +2000. He last did that in May 2015 against Brad Tavares.

Ikram Aliskerov UFC Odds

The 31-year-old Aliskerov, from Russia, is 15-1 in his professional career and unranked in the MMA as this will be a big step up in competition for him on short notice as a replacement for Khamzat Chimaev. Perhaps ironically, Aliskerov’s only career loss came against Chimaev via first-round KO (punch) at a Brave Combat Federation event in 2019.

UFC president CEO Dana White has called this a life-changing opportunity for Aliskerov, who is 2-0 in the organization following a first-round TKO (flying knee and punches) against Warlley Alves last October. All three of Aliskerov’s UFC fights, including his introduction in Dana White’s Contender Series, have ended in first-round victories.

Once Aliskerov accepted this bout, he called former unbeaten UFC champion and countryman Khabib Nurmagomedov for his advice on how to approach the situation. Aliskerov’s coach, Eldar Eldarov, recently labeled Whittaker as a worn-out fighter.

“After I took the fight I called Khabib. He said ‘You can’t miss these chances, you have to fly here and sweat for 2-3 days’,” Aliskerov said. “We discussed (the fight). (He said) ‘Pay attention because he’s a striker, be attentive and everything will work out’.”

The 6-foot Aliskerov, who is a southpaw, has a reach of 76 inches and his bouts average just 2:09. He lands a whopping 8.24 significant strikes per minute with 65 per cent accuracy and absorbs a whopping 7.15 per minute with 36 per cent defence. His takedown average is 2.33 per 15 minutes with 33 per cent accuracy, and his takedown defence is zero per cent.

Aliskerov has six wins by KO/TKO, five by submission and four by decision. His favoured method of victory Saturday is by KO/TKO/DQ at +250, followed by submission at +700 and decision at +750. To win in 60 seconds or fewer, he’s +2800. That would be a career first.

That the fight goes the full five rounds is +165 with no at +165.

UFC Fight Night Whittaker vs. Aliskerov Prediction

Former champion Israel Adesanya picked Whittaker to win by Round 3 or 4 via TKO, so we’ll take that method of victory at +175. Also like no on going the distance at -225 if wanted to parlay.