Middleweight contenders Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum will face off in the Main Event of UFC Vegas 34 for a fight that could determine whether either mans career will include a future title shot. Here we discuss the odds and analysis from a betting perspective.
- When: Saturday August 21st, 2021 7:00pm PT (ESPN+)
- Where: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Lines: Jared Cannonier (-155) and Kelvin Gastelum (+135); Over 4.5 rounds (-115) and Under 4.5 (-115); odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Jared Cannonier had his three-fight win streak as a middleweight snapped by former champ, Robert Whittaker last time out and will be looking for a rebound win on Saturday evening to keep hopes for a title shot alive.
The “Killa Gorilla” has a two inch height and six inch reach advantage over Gastelum, averaging 3.70 strikes (significant) landed per minute (SLpM) with 52 percent striking accuracy, with 3.09 strikes absorbed per minute (SApM) with 64 percent striking defense, 0.16 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 33 percent takedown accuracy and 54 percent takedown defense, according to UFC Stats.
Cannonier has won three of his last five fights, including the loss to Whittaker (UD, 2020), inside the distance wins over Jack Hermansson (TKO Rd 2, 2019), Anderson Silva (TKO Rd1, 2019) and David Branch (TKO Rd2, 2018), and a loss at light heavyweight to Dominick Reyes (TKO Rd 1, 2018).
Kelvin Gastelum is also coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Whittaker and he will be looking to avoid losing five of six fights and redirect the trajectory of his career with a win this week.
Though he has more professional fights and a longer tenure in the UFC, Gastelum is eight years younger than Cannonier. He averages 3.52 SLpM with 42 percent striking accuracy and 3.24 SApM with 57 percent striking defense, 1.16 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 37 percent takedown accuracy and 62 percent takedown defense
Gastelum has one win in his last five contests, beating Ian Heinisch (UD, 2021) and losing to Whittaker (UD, 2021), Hermansson (sub Rd1, 2020), Darren Till (SD, 2019) and Israel Adesanya (UD, 2019).
Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum Narratives
Gastelum backers will point out that Gastelum is younger, the better wrestler, has more experience in five round fights and that he has never been knocked out, suggesting that Cannonier’s path to victory might need a knockout. Some might opine that Gastelum has been fighting higher quality opponents, making him undervalued as an underdog in this spot, and that Cannonier might be overvalued with a couple of wins over washed opponents like Silva and Branch.
Some feel that Cannonier’s length, strength and explosiveness will lead to the accumulation of more damage or use MMA math to compare Cannonier’s win over Hermansson to Gastelum’s loss and grade Cannonier’s performance against Whittaker as superior to Gastelum’s to calculate a hypothetical win for the Killa Gorilla.
Jared Cannonier vs. Kevin Gastelum Prediction
Though Cannonier did indeed look better than Gastelum against Whittaker, Gastelum took the fight on short notice, and less preparation for a five – as opposed to three for Cannonier – round fight could have played a role in that discrepancy.
Despite being 37 years old, the Killa Gorilla has 1 hour and 36 minutes of Octagon time compared to 4 hours and 6 minutes of Octagon time for Gastelum. This vast differential in exposure to violent damage within MMA’s most competitive organization could explain why Gastelum’s physical potency and speed appears to be on the decline while Cannonier seems to still retain explosive movements and powerful strikes, possibly facilitated by his unprecedented drop from UFC heavyweight to light heavyweight and now middleweight.
Gastelum’s longest UFC win streak happened in 2013-2014 and there is only so much longer we can point to his wobbling of Adesanya as justification to continue mentioning him in discussions of top contenders in the middleweight division.
Cannonier’s longest UFC win streak was much more recent, occurring after his 34th birthday between 2018-2019, and he wields slightly higher volume, better striking accuracy and striking defense, and he will be one of the hardest strikers that Gastelum has faced.
Though Gastelum could hypothetically try to take down Cannonier and use control to gain an edge, Cannonier has proven to be too strong to hold down in an effective manner and we think takedown attempts will mostly tire Gastelum and expect for the majority of this contest to play out on the feet.
Gastelum’s boxing stance appears more plodding and heavier on that lead leg with all the Octagon time he’s endured, making him highly susceptible to damage from Cannonier’s powerful calf kicks which we anticipate will destabilize Gastelum’s base and open up his chin to a bomb from the Killa Gorilla’s right hand.
Gastelum’s chin and rock-solid head have proven to quite capable of absorbing damage over five rounds, making us lean toward over 4.5 rounds if forced to pick a total. But we believe Cannonier’s unique journey from someone who could knock out a UFC heavyweight down to middleweight confers unique power, power that could put the lights out on anyone in the division.
Pick: Jared Cannonier (-155)
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