UFC 234: Whittaker v Gastelum
On February 10th, Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia will host UFC 234. The headline fight will be between UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. The Co-Main event is also a notable match-up, as one of the most entertaining, in-form fighters in the world, Israel Adesanya, takes on Anderson Silva, arguably the best middleweight UFC fighter in history.
The Main Event
Whittaker is fighting on home soil, as one of the only UFC fighters based Down Under, and is undefeated in the middleweight class. He took the title of UFC Middleweight champ by defeating one of the best athletes the UFC has ever seen in Olympic wresting silver-medalist Yoel Romero in UFC 213. He beat Romero again in a rematch last June. In the second fight, Whittaker badly hurt his right hand during the fight but soldiered on to a bloody split-decision win, defending his title. Whittaker is the first Aussie to wear UFC gold and will be looking to defend his title on home soil.
Whittaker will go into this fight confident, thanks to his two hard-fought Romero victories, but his opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, is not someone to take lightly. The American has been on a legend-dropping streak of late, with victories against Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping and, most recently, Ronaldo Souza. Gastelum burst onto the scene when he was picked second to last in season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, defying all odds and winning the competition by beating Uriah Hall, the heavy favourite.
Gastelum has been underestimated by many in the lead-up to his fights, but after some career-defining wins, he now has the reputation as one of the most relentless and fearless young fighters in the UFC. His underdog mentality has enabled him to enter his fights without any inhibitions and a nothing-to-lose attitude that has been an incredible asset to him in high-pressure situations so far in his career.
Whittaker is undoubtedly a more polished and premeditative fighter, but when it comes down to two men in the octagon, the best fighter will win, polish or not. Gastelum has won a number of his fights by simply managing his energy and out-hustling his opponents.
That being said, Whittaker’s accomplishments cannot be understated. His preparation and focus against Romero are what allowed him to win both brutal fights by points. You can bet that Whittaker is confident and has studied his opponent well, and we think the Australian will defend his home soil next Sunday but do not count Gastelum out at any point in the fight. Especially if the fight extends into later rounds and Whittaker suffers an injury to an arm or a leg, the fight can turn around in an instant.
If you think the fight will go the distance, Mr Green Sport is offering 7/5 odds, and considering Gastelum’s ability to take a punch, this could be a good option to look at.
Full odds information can be found here: https://sport.mrgreen.com/en-US/filter/ufc_mma/1005167903
Co-Main Event: Israel Adesanya v Anderson Silva
Israel Adesanya is “The Last Stylebender” – a nickname influenced by his childhood, and his ability to shift his fighting style on the fly to suit the situation he’s in. The 29-year-old Nigerian-born fighter has a heavy kick-boxing influence and is an impressive striker, however, he’s able to shift his stance, use both sides of his body equally well and has unflappable confidence – a lethal combination.
On the other side of the Octagon on Sunday will be a man needing little introduction to UFC followers. Anderson Silva is in the twilight of his career at age 42, however, his tactical nature, his experience, and his still-impressive skillset are not to be underestimated. He enters this fight as the overwhelming underdog, but anything can happen in the UFC, especially considering that “The Spider” was once considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world during his historic 16-match win streak and record-length defence of the middleweight title.
All of that being said, we believe that Adesanya will take care of business against the man he most often draws comparisons to. They may have similar strengths, but Stylebender has the advantage of youth, accuracy and overwhelming confidence on his side, other than his diverse set of skills. Adesanya cannot drop his guard, however, as the Spider can still be dangerous if given the opportunity. Ultimately, we don’t think the fight will go the distance, and you can expect an Adesanya knockout in the middle rounds on Sunday night.
Mr Green Sport is favouring an Adesanya win with odds of 1/7, while the odds of the fight ending early are 1/2.
All odds for the The Spider v The Last Stylebender can be found here: https://sport.mrgreen.com/en-US/filter/ufc_mma/1005215015
Take a look at the odds we’re offering on the entire UFC 234 card here: https://sport.mrgreen.com/en-US/filter/ufc_mma