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UFC 234: Whittaker vs. Gastelum Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2019

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 09:  (L-R) Robert Whittaker of Australia and Kelvin Gastelum face off during the UFC 234 weigh-in at Rod Laver Arena on February 09, 2019 in the Melbourne Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum will collide with Whittaker's middleweight title on the line at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday night.

The Australian champion will be looking to make his first official title defense. His first unofficial defense was a non-title fight because opponent Yoel Romero failed to make weight. But this time Gastelum, who has had issues on the scales in the past, was able to make the date official.

While Whittaker and Gastelum will clash for middleweight supremacy, the greatest champion of the division will test one of its fastest rising stars. Anderson Silva will take on Israel Adesanya in what should be a fun striking contest.

The two final fights are likely to be related, as there's a good chance that the winner of Adesanya and Silva will meet the winner of the main event in the next title fight at 185. It's a big night for the middleweight division and a great event for Australian MMA given many fighters from the country are featured on the card.

                    

Main Card (10 p.m. ET, PPV)

  • Robert Whittaker (-240; bet $240 to win $100) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (+190; bet $100 to win $190)
  • Israel Adesanya (-650) vs. Anderson Silva (+425)
  • Rani Yahya (-105) vs. Ricky Simon (-125)
  • Montana De La Rosa (-260) vs. Nadia Kassem (+200)
  • Jim Crute (-135) vs. Sam Alvey (+115)

Preliminary Card (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

  • Devonte Smith (-260) vs. Dong Hyun Ma (+200)
  • Shane Young (-305) vs. Austin Arnett (+235)
  • Kai Kara-France (-305) vs. Raulian Paiva (+235)
  • Teruto Ishihara (+300) vs. Kyung Ho Kang (-400)

Preliminary Card (6:30 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

  • Lando Vannata (-365) vs. Marcos Rosa (+275)
  • Jalin Turner (-260) vs. Callan Potter (+200)
  • Wuliji Buren (+140) vs. Jonathan Martinez (-170)

All odds via OddsShark.

                 

Robert Whittaker Proves Too Much for Kelvin Gastelum

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 8:  (L-R) UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker of Australia and Kelvin Gastelum of the United States face off during the UFC 234 Press Conference inside The Palms at Crown on February 8, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Whittaker may be one of the most underappreciated champions in the UFC. One of the main reasons for that is that he only fought once in 2017 and hasn't faced anyone not named Yoel Romero since April 2017.

That will finally change when he hits the cage with Gastelum, and he will remind everyone he's at the top of his class in the middleweight division.

Whittaker may not have any official defenses of his title to his name, but his run at middleweight has been impressive. Since coming to the division in 2014, he's 8-0 and has wins over the likes of Romero, Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares.

He's proved to be an all-terrain fighter, winning with impressive knockouts as well as well-earned decisions.

Gastelum, on the other hand, has been a mixed bag in his time as a middleweight. He's earned wins over Souza and former champion Michael Bisping but was also submitted by Chris Weidman.

In the end, Gastelum might be able to hang with Whittaker, but there's no reason to believe that he holds many advantages in the fight. Both are fighters with well-rounded games, but Whittaker is just more proven against elite competition not to take here.

Prediction: Whittaker via second-round TKO.

                 

Israel Adesanya Takes Torch from Anderson Silva

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 09:  (L-R) Israel Adesanya of New Zealand and Anderson Silva of Brazil face off during the UFC 234 weigh-in at Rod Laver Arena on February 09, 2019 in the Melbourne Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Is it a passing of the torch if someone knocks out the torchbearer?

Anderson Silva is a legend. His reign over the middleweight division is the standard for the dominance over a weight class, but those days are long behind him. He's 1-4 in his past five fights and doesn't possess the kind of lightning-quick reaction time that made him the most fearsome counter-striker in UFC history.

At 43, The Spider is a shell of the man who could muay thai someone into oblivion. He was able to turn back the clock in his most recent fight against Derek Brunson, winning by decision, but that was a year ago.

Instead, The Stylebender is going to get the opportunity to introduce himself to a large pay-per-view audience against a household name, and he likely does it in style.

Adesanya is an eclectic striker who utilizes unorthodox angles, quickness and great range management to stymie opponents and make them look silly. If it sounds similar to prime Silva, that's because it is. He isn't a carbon copy, but the swagger, creativity and lethality should harken back to the days when Silva made opponents look silly.

It will come full circle Saturday night, as Adesanya ends Silva's night on violent terms.

Prediction: Adesanya via third-round TKO.

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