A showdown between Top 10 middleweights will headline
UFC on ESPN 22, as former champion Robert
Whittaker locks horns with “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner
Gastelum on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Gastelum
draws the assignment as a short-notice replacement for Paulo
Costa, who withdrew from the event due to an illness.
Whittaker has rattled off 11 wins across his past 12 outings. He
last competed at UFC 254 in October, when he laid claim to a
unanimous decision over Jared
Cannonier. Gastelum, meanwhile, closed the book on a
three-fight losing streak at UFC 258, where he took a unanimous
verdict from onetime
Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Ian
Heinisch on Feb. 13.
As Whittaker and Gastelum make their final preparations, a look at
some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
30: Years of age for Whittaker, who was born on
Dec. 20, 1990 in Auckland, New Zealand—a whopping 6,752 miles from
Ultimate Fighting Championship headquarters in Las Vegas.
675: Significant strikes landed by Whittaker as a
UFC middleweight, placing him fifth on the promotion’s all-time
list at 185 pounds. Only Michael
Bisping (1,384), Chris
Camozzi (800), Anderson
Silva (770) and Brad
Tavares (753) have connected with more.
5: Whittaker wins by submission, accounting for
23% of his career total. His methods of choice: three rear-naked
chokes and two armbars. Whittaker owns nine other victories by
knockout or technical knockout and eight more by decision.
7: Post-fight bonuses banked by Whittaker across
his 16 appearances in the UFC. He has been awarded “Fight of the
Night” four times and “Performance of the Night” on three
occasions, resulting in $350,000 of additional income.
11: Middleweight champions, including Whittaker,
in UFC history. Silva, Bisping, Dave Menne,
Bustamante, Evan Tanner,
Rockhold, Georges St.
Pierre and Israel
Adesanya are the others. Whittaker enjoyed a 660-day reign as
champion, from Dec. 7, 2017 to Oct. 6, 2019.
29: Years of age for Gastelum, who was born in San
Jose, California, on Oct. 24, 1991. “Other People’s Money,”
“Frankie and Johnny,” “The Fisher King,” “Ricochet” and “Little Man
Tate” were the Top 5 movies at the domestic box office at the
6: Gastelum wins by knockout or technical
knockout, accounting for 38% of his career total. His list of
victims includes the aforementioned Bisping, Tim Kennedy
Marquardt. Gastelum owns four other victors by submission and
six more by decision.
.785: Cumulative winning percentage between the
six men—Adesanya, Weidman, Jack
Hermansson, Darren Till,
Magny and Tyron
Woodley—who have defeated Gastelum. They own a combined record
124: Significant strikes landed by Gastelum in a
unanimous decision over former welterweight champion Johny
Hendricks at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016. It remains a high-water
mark for the Rafael
5: First-round finishes to Gastelum’s credit,
highlighted by his 55-second rear-naked choke submission of
Smallwood at a Ringside Unified Fighting event in 2012.