Las Vegas – The UFC will deliver a middleweight main event almost three years in the making, as former champion and No. 1 contender Robert Whittaker takes on No. 8 Kelvin Gastelum. In an exciting co-main event, No. 9 ranked featherweight contender Jeremy Stephens returns to lightweight for the first time in eight years to face Drakkar Klose.
This event will take place Saturday, April 17 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card will air on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and be simulcast on ESPN+ (English and Spanish), with the prelims kicking off at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT followed by the main card at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
No. 13 men’s pound-for-pound fighter Whittaker (23-5) fighting out of Sydney, Australia looks to build off the recent momentum of two impressive victories over Jared Cannonier and Darren Till. Throughout his run in the 185-pound division, he has delivered memorable wins over Yoel Romero (twice), Jacare Souza and Derek Brunson. Whittaker now has his sights set on another show-stealing performance to stake his claim for an opportunity to regain his crown.
The Ultimate Fighter season 17 winner Gastelum (17-6 1NC) fighting out of Yuma, Ariz. by way of Huntington Beach, Calif. steps in to replace Paulo Costa to finally get his shot at Whittaker after their UFC 234 encounter was cancelled. A talented striker and grappler, he holds notable wins over Michael Bisping, Johny Hendricks and Tim Kennedy. Gastelum now hopes to take out another former UFC champion and re-enter the middleweight division’s top five.
Perennial fan favorite Stephens (28-18 1NC) fighting out of San Diego, Calif. has delivered a series of spectacular knockouts during his 14-year stint on the UFC roster. Included on his resume are KO wins against Josh Emmett, Dennis Bermudez and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Stephens now aims to turn heads once again at 155 pounds with another vintage performance.
Klose (11-2-1) fighting out of Glendale, Ariz. is gunning to make the most of his first UFC co-main event appearance by securing the biggest win of his career. A gritty competitor and striker, he has delivered entertaining victories over Bobby Green, Lando Vannata and Marc Diakiese. Klose now hopes to secure his first UFC finish by taking out another seasoned veteran.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (30-20 2NC) fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla. squares off with Chase Sherman (15-6) fighting out of D’Iberville, Miss. Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-3) fighting out of Fort Worth, Texas moves up to middleweight to face Jacob Malkoun (4-1) fighting out of Sydney, Australia.
Luis Pena (8-3) fighting out of Gilroy, Calif. returns to action against Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Alex Munoz (6-1) fighting out of Sacramento, Calif. in a lightweight bout. Ricardo Ramos (14-3) fighting out of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil squares off with Bill Algeo (14-5) fighting out of King of Prussia, Penn. at featherweight.
Women’s flyweight prospects collide when Tracy Cortez (8-1) fighting out of Phoenix, Ariz. faces Justine Kish (7-3) fighting out of Cramerton, N.C. Alexandr Romanov (13-0) fighting out of Comrat City, Republic of Moldova takes on Juan Espino (11-1) fighting out of Gran Canaria, Spain in a battle of surging heavyweights.
Former women’s strawweight title challenger Jessica Penne (12-6) fighting out of Huntington Beach, Calif. returns to the Octagon for the first time in four years when she meets debuting Lupita Godinez (5-0) fighting out of Vancouver, Canada by way of Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Bartosz Fabinski (15-4, fighting out of Warsaw, Poland) takes on Gerald Meerschaert (31-14) fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisc. at middleweight.Zarah Fairn (6-4) fighting out of Paris, France goes for her first UFC victory against UFC newcomer Josiane Nunes (7-1) fighting out of Fazenda Rio Grande, Parana, Brazil in a women’s bantamweight contest. Tony Gravely (20-6) fighting out of Christiansburg, Va. locks horns with Anthony Birchak (16-7) fighting out of Tucson, Ariz.) at bantamweight.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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