UFC’s Debut in Saudi Arabia Proves Profitable for Whittaker, Oezdemir

Robert Whittaker, UFC 290
Robert Whittaker, UFC 290 media day Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Four fighters including contenders Robert Whittaker (middleweight) and Volkan Oezdemir (light heavyweight) found Saturday’s UFC Saudi Arabia card to be a profitable endeavor.

The promotion’s debut in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was first pushed back, then hit with numerous injuries and other withdrawals – but ultimately, after something of a slow start to the preliminary card, entertained.

Among the big winners on the night, main event star Robert Whittaker. The former middleweight champ wasted no time whatsoever in dispatching short-notice replacement Ikram Aliskerov, in an instant reminder of just how easily “The Reaper” can harvest a soul. One minute, forty-nine seconds was all it took for Whittaker to finish the night, perhaps opening the door for his participation in UFC 305 in Perth, Australia this August.

In the meantime, an extra $50,000 is coming Whittaker’s way in the form of a Performance of the Night bonus. That was one of four, with Volkan Oezdemir also cashing in for a quick knockout of Johnny Walker. That makes back-to-back finishes for “No Time,” a former title challenger looking to secure a second shot at gold

With no Fight of the Night awarded at UFC Saudi Arabia, the remaining two bonuses instead went to newcomer Felipe Lima, for his third-round submission of Muhammad Naimov, and Shara Magomedov, who put away another debuting fighter, Antonio Trocoli.