Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The UFC’s two-week stay at its incredibly unique Fight Island in Abu Dhabi comes to a close Saturday – although the organization will be back many, many times – with a Fight Night card headlined by a middleweight bout between contenders Robert Whittaker and Darren Till. The main card overall will begin at 8 p.m. ET.
The 29-year-old Whittaker (20-5) is from Australia and ranked No. 1 in the division, so in theory he would deserve a shot at middleweight champion Israel Adesanya with a victory Saturday. However, Adesanya will fight No. 2 contender Paulo Costa next.
That’s probably because Whittaker was beaten soundly by Adesanya via second-round knockout (punches) in Whittaker’s last trip to the Octagon in October 2019. Whittaker had been on a nine-fight winning streak and was the middleweight champion thanks to back-to-back victories over Yoel Romero (ranked No. 4). “The Reaper” now likely will have to wait until 2021 for a rematch with Adesanya – assuming a win Saturday, and that’s far from a sure thing with Whittaker only a -130 favorite.
Till (18-2) is a 27-year-old southpaw from England ranked fifth in the division. He was formerly a welterweight and fought for that title in September 2018 against Tyron Woodley but lost by second-round submission. Till lost next time out via second-round knockout against Jorge Masvidal and then chose to move to middleweight. “The Gorilla” beat Kelvin Gastelum by split decision last November. Till is even money for Saturday.
The co-main event is a light heavyweight bout between Brazilians Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a rematch.
The 38-year-old Rua (26-11-1) has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He won the Middleweight Grand Prix in the PRIDE Fighting Championships and the UFC light heavyweight belt in a rematch against Lyoto Machida way back at UFC 113. However, Rua lost the belt in his first defense to all-time great Jon Jones, who is the current light heavyweight king. Rua comes off a November 2019 draw against Paul Craig and is a -190 favorite for this bout.
Nogueira (23-9) is one of the oldest MMA fighters on the planet at age 44. This could be it for “Minotouro” as he comes off a first-round knockout loss to Ryan Spann last May. Nogueira was to fight Trevor Smith in November but had to pull out. He is +155 for Saturday.
Rua goes for the trilogy sweep against his countryman, beating Nogueira by unanimous decision in PRIDE in 2005 and then by unanimous decision again at UFC 190 in August 2015.