UFC 234: Whittaker vs Gastelum – Tips and Preview

The UFC returns to Australia for one of the more eagerly awaited main cards in recent memory. This is headlined of course by the Middleweight title fight between Aussie Robert Whittaker and American Kelvin Gastelum. Nigerian-born Kiwi Israel Adesanya also does battle with the legend Anderson Silva in the Co-Main. In what is sure to be a cracking main card, let’s provide our best bet on all 5 fights.

Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum, Middleweight, Main Event, 3pm
Whittaker by Points $3.40

Robert Whittaker

The Kiwi-born Aussie enters this main event with a very impressive 20-4 record off the back of 9 straight wins. This included 4 impressive knockouts and 2 decision victories over Cuban veteran Yoel Romero. Back-to-back knockouts of Derek Brunson and Jacare Souza really secured Whittaker’s status as a Middleweight elite. Renowned for his excellent finishing ability, 14 of Whittaker’s 20 career wins have come by knockout or submission. In front of what is sure to be a raucous Melbourne crowd, Whittaker will be tough to beat here.

Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum makes the trip to Australia buoyed by a solid 15-3-1 career record. His last 2 fights featured wins over highly respected veterans in Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza. Known primarily for his wrestling ability, 9 of Kelvin’s 15 career wins have come by submission or decision. His best hope in this one is to nullify Whittaker’s height and reach advantage by dominating on the ground.

Prediction: Whittaker by Points $3.40

Ultimately, I think Whittaker is comfortably the better fighter in this one. He has the tools necessary to win a stand-up battle with Gastelum and the takedown defence to avoid going to the ground. With Gastelum having never been knocked out in his career, I think the best play on the board is Whittaker by points at $3.40. This is especially good value when you consider his price to win straight up is just $1.40.

best bet
Israel Adesanya vs Anderson Silva, Middleweight, Co-Main Event, 2:30 pm
Adesanya by KO/TKO $1.80

Israel Adesanya

The Nigerian-born Kiwi sensation enters this co-main event with a very impressive 15-0 record. His two most recent performances have been the most impressive, winning Performance of the Night Honours in wins over Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson. Boasting an excellent kickboxing career before moving to MMA, Israel won 75 of his 81 professional fights. Renowned for his outstanding speed and power, 13 of Adesanya’s 15 professional MMA wins have been by Knockout.

Anderson Silva

Considered by many to be the greatest Middleweight of all time, the Spider enters this one with a 34-8-1 record. Just 2 months away from turning 44, age has started to catch up to Anderson, failing to win in 5 of his last 6 fights. That said, you can’t knock his outstanding win streak from 2006 to 2012. A unanimous decision win over Derek Brunson last time out showed the quality this man still possesses.  

Prediction: Adesanya by KO/TKO $1.80

This is really Adesanya’s time to shine. The whole world will be watching, and he can make a huge statement with a KO win. Silva’s chin definitely isn’t what it once was and if Israel can land a few early shots, I don’t see this one lasting the distance. At $1.80, this is far and away the best value bet in this clash.

Rani Yahya vs Ricky Simon, Bantamweight, 2 pm
Yahya by Submission $3.30

Rani Yahya

The Brazilian-born Yahya enters this one with a solid 26-9-1 professional MMA record. He has enjoyed 7 wins in his last 8 fights, 4 of which coming via submission. Known primarily for his excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ability, he has 20 career submission wins, and will no doubt look to take this one to the ground.

Ricky Simon

The American-born Simon enters this matchup with a 10-1 record, 4 of those wins coming via knockout. He has a slight 2-inch reach advantage in this one and will no doubt look to finish this on the feet early. Fighting on the Main Card for a first time, this is a great chance to enhance his reputation.

Prediction: Yahya by Submission $3.30

Simon just hasn’t faced an elite BJJ artist like Yahya in his young career. If the Brazilian can get this fight to the ground early, I think it’ll be over quickly. At $3.30 for a submission, I think this is way over the odds.

Montana De La Rosa vs Nadia Kassem, Women’s Flyweight, 1:30 pm
De La Rosa by KO/Submission at $2.50

Montana De La Rosa

A feature on one of the more recent Ultimate Fighter series, De La Rosa enjoys a 9-4 career MMA record. All but 2 of these have been by finish, indicating her excellent mix of power and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ability. She enters this one as the overwhelming favourite and another finish could definitely be on the cards.

Nadia Kassem

One of Australia’s up and coming female fighters enters this one with a solid 5-0 career record. She beat Alex Chambers by decision in her last UFC Fight after returning to Strawweight. Back at the heavier Flyweight weight class, she has her work cut out for her against the tough De La Rosa.

Prediction: De La Rosa by KO/Submission at $2.50

Given De La Rosa’s excellent finishing ability, I like the look of this double chance bet. She has finished 75% of her fights, which is quite impressive given the tough field in the Ultimate Fighter. Even against a tough crowd, I expect her to get this done comfortably.

Jim Crute vs Sam Alvey, Light Heavyweight, 1 pm
Crute by Ko or Points $1.91

Jim Crute

The 22-year-old Aussie “Brute” enters this one with an undefeated 9-0 MMA record. He has 3 wins each via knockout, decision, and submission, highlighting his versatility in the octagon. Sure to have a raucous crowd behind him, Crute enters this one as a relatively strong favourite.

Sam Alvey

The American veteran definitely won’t make things easy for Crute, enjoying 33 wins in his 45 professional fights. He has 19 wins via knockout and 11 by decision, indicative of his strengths on the feet. With a ton of experience behind him, Alvey will no doubt be looking to pull off the upset here.

Prediction: Crute by Ko or Points $1.91

Crute hasn’t shown a real willingness to go to ground throughout his career, so I expect more of a standing battle here. His punches definitely pack a powerful punch and I could see Alvey wobbling here. At $1.91, I like the value on this double chance.