UFC on ABC 6 Main Event Breakdown

Image for UFC on ABC 6 Main Event Breakdown

There’s some good news and bad news that we need to tell you right from the start. First, the bad news: The NBA season is now over and your options as far as watching live sports is concerned are now a bit more limited until this October, save for the Vegas Summer League next month.

Now, the good news: A summer of MMA action from the UFC kicks off on the season’s first Saturday on the back-end of a heat wave gripping much of the country. MMA fans will be inside (hopefully with air conditioners and/or ceiling fans going at full blast to stay cool) and watching the UFC’s first event of the summer.

For the first time ever, Dana White‘s promotion heads to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, specifically Riyadh, at Kingdom Arena for UFC on ABC 6. Live coverage kicks off at 12 noon ET/ 9 am PT Saturday with the undercard on ESPN, before switching over to your local ABC station at 3 pm ET/ noon PT for the main card.

Middleweights Do Battle on ABC Saturday Afternoon

All told, barring any further adjustments between now and fight day, 11 fights will take place in the UFC’s first visit to Saudi Arabia. A middleweight showdown will be the focus for the UFC on ABC 6 main event.

No. 3 contender Robert Whittaker (26-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) will square off against Ikram Aliskerov (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) in the latter’s first main event since joining the promotion. As with all UFC headliners, the UFC on ABC 6 main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to wrap up the day’s activities.

UFC on ABC 6 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the UFC on ABC 6 main event on Saturday afternoon, both contestants stand level at six feet even. Aliskerov owns a 2 1/2-inch reach (76 1/2 inches to 73 inches even) over Whittaker, with the No. 3 contender owning a three-inch leg reach advantage (43 inches to 40 inches) over Aliskerov.

Currently, the oddsmakers have Robert Whittaker installed as a -160 favorite on the money line, with Ikram Aliskerov countering as a +130 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend in MMA, please wager responsibly.

Robert Whittaker Unfazed by Late Opponent Change for UFC on ABC 6 Main Event Saturday

Robert Whittaker enters the UFC on ABC 6 main event on Saturday having posted a record of 3-2 in his last five fights. Most recently, he scored a unanimous decision victory after three rounds over Paulo Costa (14-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) in Anaheim on Feb. 17 during UFC 298.

Initially, he had been set to face off against Khamzat Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) this weekend in Riyadh, but the pairing was scrubbed last Thursday after Chimaev was sidelined by an illness that’s caused multiple trips to medical centers. 

Despite Chimaev withdrawing on nine days’ notice, Whittaker mentioned in his press junket that the name of the opponent is immaterial.

“I’m not really worried too much about who I’m fighting,” Whittaker began. “I’m going to be honest: I’m here to fight. I was fit, I was ready, and this helped provide for my family. Everyone knew I wanted to fight. I’m here, so I’m going to fight.”

Knowing his fighter’s scheduled opponent couldn’t make the walk so close to the date of the contest couldn’t have been easy for Whittaker, but like he said, he wants to go to battle on Saturday.

Can Ikram Aliskerov Win After Week’s Delay?

In the other corner, Ikram Aliskerov has gone 5-0 in his last five appearances as part of an ongoing seven-fight winning streak. Most recently, he stopped Warlley Alves (14-8 MMA, 8-8 UFC) with a first-round knockout last October.

Aliskerov was supposed to have fought already this month. Prior to being rebooked to fight here, he had been scheduled to face off against Andre Muniz last Saturday at the UFC Apex, a pairing that was scrubbed after the latter withdrew due to injury.

A subsequent booking vs. Antonio Trocoli was also taken off of the June 15 card once he was slated to fight Whittaker this week. This is a man who was ready to go last week on ESPN2. How will the seven-day delay and the ABC spotlight factor into his performance on Saturday?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC on ABC 6 main event looks to favor Robert Whittaker, a freestyle wrestler with black belts in hapkido, Goju-ryu karate, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Ikram Aliskerov’s status as an International Master of Sport in Combat Sambo.

Watch Whittaker’s Kicking Game

Given that Robert Whittaker is a well-rounded fighter, he can make any opponent of his pay, no matter what the method is. He can chop Ikram Aliskerov like a tree in the forest with kicks, like he did against Paulo Costa over the President’s Day weekend in February.

During the opening round of the co-headliner that night, Whittaker repeatedly scored with kicks to the leg, causing Costa’s leg to swell up.  With the swelling in progress, Whittaker opened up his offensive gameplan by landing a right-handed punch to momentarily wobble Costa while still landing leg kicks, all without taking him down for much of the round.

He also used combinations advantageously in the round, despite absorbing a spinning heel kick in the final seconds. Robert Whittaker can knock Ikram Aliskerov off of his intended plan of attack if he predicates his offense on leg kicks.

Aliskerov Slick with Submissions

In the other corner, Ikram Aliskerov has been known to hunt for the submission when he gets inside the cage. A prime example occurred during his tilt vs. Miro Jurkovic in 2021.

After the fight nearly was stopped between rounds one and two amid a cut, Jurkovic kept fighting, but Aliskerov made him pay with a bodylock takedown, immediately taking mount before transitioning to a half-nelson. This gave him the opening he needed to lock up a kimura choke in 71 seconds.

All Ikram Aliskerov has to do in the UFC on ABC 6 main event Saturday is beat Robert Whittaker to the takedown. If he dumps Whittaker first, he can seize the overall momentum of the fight.

Final Thoughts

While no title fight is at stake here, the UFC on ABC 6 main event could play a major role in determining the future of the middleweight division.

Prediction: Robert Whittaker by Unanimous Decision.

Share this article

Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.