Whittaker, Adesanya tight on betting lines for UFC 243

FILE - In this June 10, 2018, file photo, Robert Whittaker reacts after his middleweight mixed martial arts title bout against Yoel Romero at UFC 225 in Chicago. Whittaker defends his UFC middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. (Jim Young, File/AP)

Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will be vying for a 10th straight victory when he puts his belt on the line in a title unification fight with interim champion Israel Adesanya on Saturday at UFC 243 as a slim -120 favourite on the UFC odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Sidelined by a series of health concerns for the past 16 months, Whittaker will make his first appearance since claiming a five-round split decision win in a highly anticipated rematch with Yoel Romero at UFC 225, and now takes a 20-4 professional MMA record into Saturday’s matchup at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

Whittaker first claimed the interim UFC middleweight title with a unanimous decision victory in his first meeting with Romero at UFC 213, paying out on -125 odds at online betting sites, and was later promoted to undisputed champion. Those two clashes mark the only times that Whittaker has seen a fight go into championship rounds since joining the UFC back in 2012.

The 28-year-old finished opponents by knockout or TKO in four of his previous six outings. Whittaker also took home Performance of the Night or Fight of the Night bonuses on five occasions during that stretch, and is undefeated in eight outings since making his middleweight debut with a decisive second-round TKO win over Clint Hester as a +160 underdog at UFC Fight Night 55.

Adesanya enters the octagon for the first defense of his interim title perched as a narrow -110 underdog. The 30-year-old Nigerian claimed the interim crown with a five-round unanimous decision win over veteran Kelvin Gastelum as a -200 bet at UFC 236, lifting his unblemished pro MMA record to 17-0.

Adesanya has seen four of his past five fights get decided by the judges including a three-round clash with Anderson Silva at UFC 234 that earned him his first Fight of the Night bonus while paying out on -450 odds. However, Adesanya also demonstrated devastating punching power early in his career, finishing opponents in the first two rounds in each of his first 12 professional fights.

Elsewhere on the UFC 243 odds, Al Iaquinta looks to avoid suffering consecutive losses for the first time in over seven years as he take on fellow lightweight Dan Hooker as a +140 underdog.

Sydney native Tai Tuivasa will try to snap a two-fight losing streak as he takes on Serghei Spivac as a heavy -450 favourite in a clash of heavyweights, while Dhiego Lima attempts to establish his first three-fight win streak in six years as he battles fellow welterweight Luke Jumeau as -150 chalk.

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