Ian Heinisch (+168) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (-200)
Weight Class: Middleweight (185 lbs)
Kelvin Gastelum will be looking to get back in the win column at UFC 258 amidst a brutal losing streak. Of course, the first of three current losses in a row was absolutely nothing to sneeze at. Gastelum went the distance with Israel Adesanya in an interim middleweight title fight and almost edged out the victory. It was Adesanya’s toughest test to date and though he didn’t get his hand raised, Kelvin Gastelum saw his stock rise immensely.
The hype really was high on Gastelum, and as a result, he got himself a co-main slot on the Diaz-Masvidal card at Madison Square Garden. Then President Trump attended the fight, becoming the first sitting President to attend a UFC event. Needless to say, this was a great slot to say the least.
Gastelum was matched up with Darren Till, who was riding a brutal losing streak himself. Till took a big risk in calling for a bout with Gastelum for his middleweight debut, but he was very motivated. Till took his approach very seriously for that fight and was as good as he’s ever looked. There wasn’t much action, but Till put on a technical masterclass to squeak out a split-decision victory. Leg kicks gave the fighter from Liverpool a slight edge on the score cards, though Gastelum did battle back and win round three.
For Kelvin Gastelum, there was a lot of chatter about him being unprepared. He didn’t seem to be in tip top shape and some in the media questioned his preparation. If Gastelum was unfocused, it was compounded by how locked in Till was for that fight. Till can be all over the place in terms of fight prep, but he was extra motivated that night.
Gastelum then went on to lose via first round heel-hook to Jack Hermansson. It was a really tough break for Gastelum, who seemed intend to trade in the pocket.
After that, the former top contender took some much needed time off and will be back in action tonight. I think that this was an excellent choice for Gastelum, and I do believe that it will pay dividends.
He will have a very tough task in Ian Heinisch. Heinisch can give anyone in the top 15 a tough fight and has a great gas tank. The 15th ranked Heinisch employs takedowns and has solid stand-up, having most recently secured a knockout KO of Gerald Meerschaert. All told, Heinisch is 3-2 in the UFC. He also lost to Markus Perez at LFA 22.
Stylistically, Gastelum is an excellent boxer and has heavy hands. Though very short for the division, Gastelum has excellent power and is great and getting in the correct range to do damage. His chin is tried and true, as evidenced by the Adesanya fight, and he’s beaten some huge names.
If Gastelum is locked in, he will make 2020 look like an aberration. Heinisch is a very talented martial artist, but he’s never beaten a fighter of Gastelum’s caliber.
At (-200), there is lots of value in Kelvin Gastelum as a parlay piece. Yes, there is reason to be skeptical, but I really do think that the skid stops here. The Hermansson lose was just a freak occurrence, so all we’re really looking at here is a tough loss to an elite kick-boxer in Darren Till.
It’s tough to predict a definitive method of victory outcome for this one and I won’t be betting on a prop, though I do lean Gastelum by decision. I have placed 1u on a parlay of Gastelum and Tom Aspinall over Andrei Arlovski next weekend, however, as well as .5u on a parlay of Gastelum money line and Rodolfo Vieira by submission. I also have a parlay of Usman by points, Gastelum moneyline and Miranda Maverick moneyline, though with the Maverick fight cancelled, it is now two legs.
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Prediction and play: Kelvin Gastelum moneyline (-200)
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