UFC on ABC 6
Ikram Aliskerov ML +127 over Robert Whittaker

Pinnacle +118 BET365 +125 Sportsinteraction +125 888Sport +110

Posted at 10:15 AM EST. Odds subject to change.

UFC on ABC 6

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Wager: Ikram Aliskerov ML (best odds: +127 at Bookmaker)

5:15 PM EST. Of course Robert Whittaker is the favorite on Saturday night - are you surprised? Few UFC fighters come with the same aura as "The Reaper," a guy that's been through it all with the company since 2012, entering the brand when he was just 21 years old. "Bobby Knuckles," is as legitimate as it gets in MMA, a tough guy from Sydney Australia with the mentality of a warrior, and he's went toe-to-toe with some of the biggest names to ever grace the octagon. In perhaps his most celebrated fight of all time, Whittaker took Israel Adesanya to his limits in 2022, three years after Israel knocked him out to win middleweight gold. In the last 10 years, Whittaker has only lost to two men: Adesanya and the current champion, Dricus Du Plessis; otherwise he's plowed through the world's best martial artists, usually by out-gunning his opponent with massive strikes and counter-strikes in decision victories.

What oddsmakers clearly aren't considering is how much time Whittaker has had between bouts the last 4 years, and how rusty his body must be at this point. Due to injuries and other scheduling complications, Whittaker only fought 5 times since October 2020, an average of just one bout every 8.8 months. At 33 years old, he may be viewed by some as still in his prime, which could be true if he maintained elite training and habits, but we're inclined to believe his best days are behind him. The Reaper's body has endured 32 professional fights in his career, as many as some of the most prolific fighters in the history of the UFC, and he had quite a few injuries, some disclosed, some undisclosed, that accompanied that journey. Although he was champion before, Whittaker's career has largely been disappointing, and it's really not his fault. Sure, he lost to future Hall of Famers, that's a minor disappointment, but the amount of times he had a big fight cancelled or changed is too many to count. That extends to this Saturday in Saudi Arabia, against a new, very dangerous opponent.

Ikram Aliskerov doesn't care if you know his name or not, but from where we sit he's ready to break out as a middleweight title contender. At 15-1 and unquestionably in his prime at 31 years old, Aliskerov steps up in Khamzat Chimaev's spot after the UFC learned that Chimaev, a guy Dana White wanted to become a superstar, incurred a serious illness. Aliskerov, who prides himself on always being ready for any opportunity, was happy to take his seat. Hailing from Dagestan and from one of the world's most terrifying fight camps in the world of MMA (Khabib and Islam trained there), Aliskerov doesn't have the same history of all-world opponents throughout his 12-year professional career, but he's been dominant in the octagon. His only loss came outside the UFC back in 2019, a defeat at the hands of the same guy he's replacing Saturday night. Khamzat was always a phenom in the making, and a 26 year old Aliskerov wasn't ready. Still, he landed a few high quality kicks and punches that would have dropped most fighters, but Khamzat caught him with a defensive uppercut in the first round and that's all she wrote. No win or loss is "lucky" in fighting unless it goes to the scorecards and the judges are on drugs (which seems to be about 50% of the time these days), but that was an unfortunate blow in a bout that could have gone far longer and shown us significantly more about the Dagestanian's potential. Since then, Aliskerov has become a well-rounded and unpredictable fighter, with wins by way of submission, KOs and TKOs from punches, and even a TKO flying knee that caught his last opponent, Warlley Alves, before he knew what hit him.

Coming off 7 straight wins, Saturday's bout is the catapult Aliskerov needs to gain the respect of UFC fans and decision makers. Whittaker hasn't packed the same power since his hayday in the middleweight division, seemingly knocked off his pedestal for good by a new breed of champions. There is no fighter we respect more than Bobby Knuckles, but it appears he's in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Saudi Arabia is Ikram's backyard, a comfortable environment for a guy who's trained in combat sambo and MMA  in the Middle East since he was in the fifth grade. He also has the same aspirations as the guys he trained with under Khabib Nurmagomedov's dad, the elite of the elite in the former and current UFC roster, and just because we haven't seen Aliskerov take down a top competitor doesn't mean he can't. We  love the confluence of fortunate factors on the side of Aliskerov, and at this juncture he's more spry and more dynamic than his legendary foe. The value lies with the pooch in UFC on ABC 6. 



Our Pick

Ikram Aliskerov ML +127 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.54)