The UFC  returns to Melbourne, Australia on Saturday, February 9,  with UFC 234 at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Main Event: Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum

The last time they had an event in Australia, the UFC smashed its attendance record with 56,214 paying fans watching Holly Holm shock Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. They aren’t expecting to break that record on Saturday but with Sydney native Robert Whittaker headlining the event, a massive crowd is expected to cheer the first ever Australian to win a UFC world title.

“Fighting" Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (20-4 with 9 KOs)

Robert Whittaker arrived in the UFC as a contestant in the first series of The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes in 2012 and won the welterweight tournament. After winning his first two UFC bouts, Whittaker suffered back to back losses to Court McGee and Stephen Thompson. He moved up to middleweight in his next fight and has not lost ever since, winning nine fights in a row.

At UFC 213 in 2017, Whittaker outgunned Yoel Romero in a five-round war and won the interim UFC middleweight title via unanimous decision.  He was later promoted to full champion status and then went on to beat Romero again, this time via split decision, in a rematch at UFC 225 in 2018.

Having fought previously at welterweight, Whittaker is extremely fast for the middleweight division. He moves around the octagon very well and lands crisp combinations. Whittaker isn’t just a very good striker, he is a very powerful one. He also has a quality wrestling background and is more than willing to fight on the ground. What stands out though is his conditioning which is second to none in the business.

What are the Moneyline Odds?
Robert Whittaker - MMA Fighter



Kelvin Gastelum - MMA Fighter



Odds from as of 2/08/19

“Fighting" Kelvin Gastelum (15-3-0-1 , 6 KOs)

Kelvin Gastelum also came to the UFC after winning The Ultimate Fighter 17 middleweight tournament. But after being crowned champion, he moved down and competed at welterweight. After missing weight a couple of times, he moved up and down the two weight classes.

Gastelum suffered a submission loss to former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC on Fox 25 in 2017 but he bounced back and stunned another former champion in Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 122 in China. That victory earned him his first crack at a UFC title. Gastelum hopes to cash in on that opportunity on Saturday night.

Gastelum picked up four submission wins in his first 10 bouts but has not had one ever since. He’s chosen to rely on his excellent striking technique which has produced six knockouts. He’s a threat to land the big punch both on his feet and on the ground. He likes to led with his right hand and unload his left power shot to knock his opponents out.

“Fighting" By The Numbers

The champion has won nine consecutive bouts, four of them via knockout and has won six Performance bonuses in those nine fights. Gastelum meanwhile has won five out of his last six bouts with one of those victories overturned to a no-contest after he tested positive for marijuana metabolites during a drug test. Gastelum has also earned four Performance of the Night bonuses in his last seven bouts.

Whittaker has excellent striking and punching power and those have led to nine wins via knockout. Four of those stoppages have come during his current nine-fight winning streak. According to Fightmetric, The Reaper lands an average of 4.82 significant strikes per minute at an accuracy rate of 40%. Whittaker has a 61% striking defense and absorbs just 3.65  significant strikes per minute.

On the other hand, Gastelum has recorded four knockouts in his last six wins although one of those was the bout that was overturned to a no-contest following a failed drug test. Gastelum lands 3.86 significant strikes per minute at an accuracy of 43%. Percentage-wise, Gastelum’s striking defense is the same as Whittaker’s at 61%. However, the challenger is getting tagged by only 2.87 significant strikes per minute.

“Fighting" Who Wins?

This should be an exciting fight with two offensively-gifted  fighters. However, it does appear that Whittaker holds most of the advantages. If Gastelum chooses to brawl, he doesn’t have the cardio to keep up with Whittaker who’s gone five rounds in his last two fights. If the challenger decides to counter, Whittaker has better combinations and should win a decision easily. Should Gastelum choose to wrestle, Whittaker has an 84% takedown defense and the size advantage over him.

Well it does appear that a knockout is Gastelum’s best chance of winning this. But given his natural punching power, I think he can do it. We’ve seen Whittaker get hurt in his bouts, most recently against Yoel Romero. The Aussie is a tough dude and his recovery is impressive. Reaper withstood Romero’s onslaught. I love Gastelum’s power but his arsenal isn’t as explosive as Romero’s. Whittaker has more firepower and has the better gas tank. I think we’ll have an exciting first round, then Whittaker is going to start to take over in the second. The champ is going to finish this fight between round three and four.

Prediction: Robert Whittaker by knockout.

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Co-main Event: Israel Adesanya vs Anderson Silva

The co-main event of UFC 234 features another fighter close to the hearts of the Australian fans. New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya faces one of the greatest of all-time in Anderson “The Spider” Silva in what could be the proverbial changing of the guard.

“Fighting" Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya

Israel Adesanya is one of the rising stars in the UFC. The “Last Stylebender” is known for his incredible reflexes and his ability to read what his opponent is about to do before he actually does it. This uncanny anticipation is most seen on defense as Adesanya is a hard target with opponents missing 71% of their strikes. According to fightmetric, the Last Stylebender absorbs just 2.08 significant strikes per minute while he lands an average of 4.51 significant strikes per minute with a 55% accuracy rate.

Adesanya does whatever it takes to connect on his foes. Whether it’s a punch, elbow, knee or a kick, he lands effectively and with style. This flashy offense reminds many of the man he is facing on Saturday night as elusiveness and uncanny striking ability were the trademarks of the Spider during his reign on top of the middleweight division. The Last Stylebender is a perfect 15-0 in his MMA career and 13 of his wins have come by knockout. Anderson Silva is the biggest name he’s faced and a win over the Spider is going to push him to superstardom.

What are the Moneyline Odds?
Israel Adesanya



Anderson Silva



Odds from as of 2/08/19

“Fighting" Anderson “The Spider” Silva

When the conversation turns to the Greatest of All Time, Anderson Silva’s name is one of the first that comes to mind. The Spider is regarded as the greatest middleweight champion of all-time after winning 16 straight bouts from 2006-2012. Silva won 14 of those bouts by stoppage, including 11 by knockout. But everything came crashing after his back to back TKO losses to Chris Weidman. Since then Silva has gone 1-4 with one no-contest. He is no longer considered a threat to win the title again but is competing anyway because he says he still loves to fight.

Silva is one of the greatest showmen of all-time and one of the best in playing mind games. He has the incredible ability to avoid getting hit ( except by Weidman) and only absorbs 1.87 significant strikes per minute. Silva isn’t a volume striker but is an accurate one at 63% striking accuracy. He lands an average of 3.10 significant strikes per minute. At 43 though, he is no longer as evasive on defense and no longer as explosive on offense. Still, he is no walk in the park as the veteran has plenty of tricks in his pocket.

“Fighting" Who Wins?

Both me are fighting their mirror images. They both have excellent striking offense and defense as well. The only difference perhaps between the two is speed and quickness in favor of the Last Stylebener who is 14 years younger than the Spider. Don’t count out Silva though as we know that he has all the tricks in the book and can certainly pull this one off.

Recent form however tells us that Adesanya isn’t just on a winning streak but he is on a tear. Silva just hasn’t been the same since losing to Weidman and not only has he lost his aura of invincibility, he’s lost a step or two and is no longer as evasive and powerful as he was during his prime. No question, I’m backing Adesanya to win this fight. He’s younger, quicker and has more sting right now.

Prediction: Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision

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