Robert Whitaker vs Jared Cannonier is Most Evenly-Matched Fight of UFC 254

Custom UFC Background

  • Robert Whitaker takes on Jared Cannonier at the co-main event of UFC 254 this Saturday at Fight Island.
  • The Reaper is currently a +104 betting underdog while Cannonier is currently pegged at -124.
  • The winner of the bout will be the UFC’s number one ranked middleweight contender.

If the oddsmakers are to be believed, UFC 254’s co-main event will be its most competitive bout.

According to the latest UFC 254 betting guide, the 185-pound showdown between former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whitaker and Jared Cannonier is the most evenly-matched fight of this weekend’s big event at the Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. That’s because the UFC 254 midweek betting odds have the ex-champ as a slight +104 betting underdog against Cannonier who is currently pegged at -124.

Whitaker will be fighting for the second time at the Flash Forum. Last July, the 29-year old from Auckland headlined the fourth and final event of the UFC’s first Fight Island series. In that event, Whitaker defeated former welterweight title challenger Darren Till in a back and forth affair that saw the Aussie won via identical scores of 48-47 across all judges scorecards.

Nothing New to Whitaker

The win has his first bout since losing the UFC middleweight belt to current champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 in October 2019. Whitaker has fought just thrice in the last three years as he has battled several injuries. Prior to his loss to Adesanya, Whitaker had a run of nine consecutive wins, including eight in a row at the 185-pound division.

Known as the Reaper, Whitaker burst into the scene after winning The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes welterweight tournament in 2012. The former Superfight Australia welterweight champion went 2-2 as a welterweight before going on his nine-fight winning streak at the 185-pound division. Whitaker is 21-5 with nine knockouts and five wins via submisison.

If the trend continues and Bobby Knuckles closes as the underdog in this bout, this will mark the fourth time in his last six bouts where he has closed as the underdog. Despite the odds not always on his side, Whitaker is is 4-1 in the last five bouts where he stepped inside the octagon as an underdog so being an underdog against Cannonier is nothing new to the ex-middleweight king.

First Title Shot

As for Cannonier, being the betting favorite is unfamiliar territory for the UFC’s no. 2 ranked middleweight contender. If he closes as the favorite in this bout, that will mark only the second time in his last five bouts where he heads to a fight as the chalk. In his last four bouts, the only time he was favored was when he fought the aging Anderson Silva at UFC 237. He won that fight via first round stoppage.

Cannonier is 6-4 in his UFC career but since dropping to the middleweight division in 2018, he is 3-0 with three knockouts and two Performance of the Night bonuses. The 36-year old from Dallas, Texas has a record of 13-4 with nine knockouts and two wins via submission. In his last bout at last September, he stopped the current 4th ranked middleweight Jack Hermannson as a +250 betting underdog.

Moving down to 185-pounds has showcased the punching power of the Killa Gorilla even more. Cannonier was already known as a heavy-hitter at 205-pounds but since going to middleweight, he has been an absolute killer. A win over the no. 1 ranked Whitaker will give Cannonier his first ever title shot in the UFC.

Khabib Heavy Favorite

Meanwhile, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is a heavy favorite in this weekend’s main event. The Eagle is currently listed at -305 in the third defense of the title he won at UFC 223. That means that Khabib has a 75.3% implied probability to win the fight. That also means that you need to wager $305 to win $100 on Nurmagomedov.

Interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje wants the real belt. But he will have to do so as a +255 betting underdog against the champion. That means that The Highlight has an implied probability of 28.2% to win the fight. The oddsmakers are also saying that a $100 bet on Gaethje will fetch $255 if he upsets Nurmagomedov. Gaethje closed as a +210 underdog against Tony Ferguson and as a betting underdog in four out of his last five bouts.

Against Khabib though, Gaethje finds himself in the biggest underdog role of his UFC career. But it’s hard to count him out. The same was said of him against Ferguson, and look what happened. The former WSOF lightweight champion doesn’t have the same pressure as Khabib has. Considering what Nurmagomedov has gone through with the death of his father, we could see an interesting fight on Saturday night.

Latest posts