UFC Saudi Arabia: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov predictions, odds: MMA expert reveals surprising fight card picks

The UFC makes its first journey into Saudi Arabia on Saturday with a UFC Fight Night card that showcases former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker taking on prized prospect Ikram Aliskerov in the main event. Their scheduled five-round showdown anchors the main UFC Saudi Arabia card starting at 3 p.m. ET from Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The No. 3-ranked Whittaker is looking to protect his place in the top-heavy division with the goal of competing again for the title, perhaps by the end of the year. He faces a stiff challenge on short notice against the unranked Aliskerov, who was pushed into the limelight because his fellow countryman, Khamzat Chimaev, withdrew from the fight because of illness.

Whittaker is a -150 favorite (risk $150 to win $100), while Aliskerov comes back at +125 in the latest UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov odds. In the co-main event, Sergei Pavlovich (-220) takes on Alexander Volkov (+180) in a matchup of ranked heavyweight contenders. Before locking in your picks for UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov, make sure you see the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Daniel Vithlani.

From breaking down film and following fighters and their camps closely, to tracking sharp action and betting market signals, Vithlani covers the breadth of the MMA betting landscape top to bottom. He also trains amateur boxers and speaks regularly with MMA fighters to understand the sport’s nuances.

Vithlani made his SportsLine debut in January 2023 and swept the main card for UFC 283 with a 5-0 record and has been a consistent winner ever since. Over the past 12 UFC pay-per-view events, Vithlani has gone 8-4 on main-event picks and his main-card selections in that span have netted his followers a profit of more than $1,500.

His highlights include predicting an upset for Sean O’Malley (+210) against Aljamain Sterling (-250) at UFC 292 as part of a 4-1 main card and his UFC 299 winners included underdog selections on Poirier (+190) against Saint Denis (-230) and Michael Page (+110) against Kevin Holland (-130). Anyone who has followed him has seen massive returns.

Now, with UFC Fight Night: UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov on deck, Vithlani has studied the card from top to bottom and released his top selections. You can only see those picks and analysis at SportsLine.

UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov preview

Whittaker (25-7) is a 12-year UFC veteran who is one of the most respected active fighters in the promotion. The 33-year-old New Zealander is known for his durability, versatile skill set and a willingness to take on all qualified opponents.

Since moving up a weight class early in his career, Whittaker is 13-3 at middleweight, with the defeats coming to former champion Israel Adesanya (twice) and current titleholder Dricus du Plessis. Whittaker has essentially worked as the top-three middleweight gatekeeper over the past few years, and only du Plessis passed the test.

Whittaker has summarily discarded all other contenders, but this matchup has a different backdrop. The UFC has long been high on the potential of Chimaev, but the Dagestani fighter’s career has been derailed by illness, injuries and travel issues at every turn. Whittaker was perhaps the only top-five middleweight willing to face Chimaev, and now he turns his attention to another prospect who has many similarities with Whittaker’s original opponent.

Like Chimaev, Aliskerov (15-1) is a rugged Dagestani bruiser with polished skills and a sinister disposition. However, the 31-year-old is far less experienced than Chimaev at the UFC level and his two UFC fights have come against journeymen Phil Hawes and Warlley Alves, both of whom he finished in the first round.

The unranked Aliskerov was originally expected to appear on last week’s UFC Fight Night card, but the promotion pulled him when he became a candidate to face Whittaker on Saturday. Although he’s untested and unranked, a win over a former champion would likely immediately vault Aliskerov into the top-five rankings. You can only see who to back at UFC Fight night here.

UFC Fight Night predictions

We’ll share one of Vithlani’s UFC Fight Night selections here: He is siding with Daniel Rodriguez (+205) to pull the upset of Kelvin Gastelum (-250) in a battle of veteran welterweights on the main card.

Gastelum (17-9-1) entered the UFC with plenty of hype behind winning the reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” in April 2013. He went on to emerge as a potential title challenger after winning his first four fights but has since struggled to gain traction against upper-tier competition. The 32-year-old Californian has dropped three of his past four fights, including a submission loss to prospect Sean Brady last December.

Rodriguez (17-4) is a power puncher who once cracked the top-15 rankings behind a four-fight winning streak but has seen his momentum halted because of back-to-back losses. He was stopped by rising star Ian Garry in the first round of their fight in May of last year.

“Gastelum has looked too hittable as of late and, with more than 20 UFC fights logged, his granite chin can only hold for so long,” Vithlani told SportsLine. See who else to back here.

How to make UFC Fight Night picks

Vithlani has strong picks for Whittaker vs. Aliskerov and other bouts on the UFC Fight Night card. He’s also backing a fighter who “brings a menacing presence to the Octagon” to emerge with a dominant victory. Those picks are only available at SportsLine.

Who wins UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Aliskerov, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $1,500 on his UFC main-card picks, and find out.

UFC Fight Night odds, fight card

See full UFC Fight Night picks, predictions, best bets here.

Robert Whittaker (-150) vs. Ikram Aliskerov (+125)

Sergei Pavlovich (-220) vs. Alexander Volkov (+180)

Kelvin Gastelum (-250) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (+205)

Johnny Walker (-120) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (+100)

Shara Magomedov (-240) vs. Joilton Lutterbach (+195)

Nasrat Haqparast (-240) vs. Jared Gordon (+195)

Rinat Fakhretdinov (-340) vs. Nicolas Dalby (+270)

Kyung Ho Kang (+130) vs. Muin Gafurov (-155)

Magomed Gadzhiyasulov (-345) vs. Brendson Ribeiro (+275)

Xiao Long (-120) vs. Chang Ho Lee (+100)

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