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UFC 234: Whittaker vs Gastelum Preview

UFC+234+sees+Robert+Whittaker+take+on+Kelvin+Gastelum+for+the+middleweight+championship+in+Melbourne%2C+Australia%27s+Rod+Laver+Arena.+Current+champion%2C+Whittaker%2C+came+into+the+weigh+in+at+185+pounds+while+Gastelum+notched+in+one+pound+lighter.+Image+courtesy+of+UFC
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UFC 234: Whittaker vs Gastelum Preview

UFC 234 sees Robert Whittaker take on Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight championship in Melbourne, Australia's Rod Laver Arena. Current champion, Whittaker, came into the weigh in at 185 pounds while Gastelum notched in one pound lighter. Image courtesy of UFC

UFC 234 sees Robert Whittaker take on Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight championship in Melbourne, Australia's Rod Laver Arena. Current champion, Whittaker, came into the weigh in at 185 pounds while Gastelum notched in one pound lighter. Image courtesy of UFC

UFC 234 sees Robert Whittaker take on Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight championship in Melbourne, Australia's Rod Laver Arena. Current champion, Whittaker, came into the weigh in at 185 pounds while Gastelum notched in one pound lighter. Image courtesy of UFC

UFC 234 sees Robert Whittaker take on Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight championship in Melbourne, Australia's Rod Laver Arena. Current champion, Whittaker, came into the weigh in at 185 pounds while Gastelum notched in one pound lighter. Image courtesy of UFC

David Ibarra, Reporter

This weekend, the UFC returns to Melbourne, Australia for UFC 234: Whittaker v Gastelum. This will mark the Middleweight champion’s return to his home state to defend his title for the first time. Robert Whittaker will look to make it ten wins in a row as he takes on formidable challenger Kelvin Gastelum in the main event.

Whittaker has been sidelined since June of 2018 after going 25 minutes with middleweight powerhouse Yoel Romero in which he earned a split decision victory. Similarly, Gastelum’s last fight came in May 2018 in a title shot eliminator against Jacare Souza. He came back to win a split decision victory.

Expect this fight to offer a strong display of boxing as both fighters like to stay on their feet. Whittaker offers an advantage in strikes landed per minute whereas Kelvin Gastelum is the better of the two on utilizing defensive boxing. As it stands on fight week, Whittaker remains a healthy favorite to retain his middleweight championship.

The rest of the main card offers promising matchups that have a new school versus old school feel. The co-main event, for example, is a Muay Thai showdown between two potential title challengers.

Undefeated prospect Israel Adesanya meets veteran Anderson Silva to determine who may be next in line for the winner of the main event.  Adesanya, since signing to the UFC in 2017, has been on a mission to reach a title shot opportunity. Winner of 15 straight, his ability to demonstrate immaculate technique has earned him the co-main slot against the always exciting Silva. This fight is guaranteed to be a stand-up clinic from both fighters. Adesanya leads as the young favorite.

The first three fights on the main card follow the same path with prospects challenging established fighters. This is a method by the UFC to give exposure to talent that they’ve been scouting in hopes that they establish themselves to be stars. The event does not scream “superstar talent” but gives prospects a big enough venue and a pay per view slot to showcase their talents.

Established 135er Rani Yaya takes on 14-1 Ricky Simon. This bout will determine if Simon can break into the top 15 rankings in his division. The women’s flyweight division heats up as #14 flyweight contender Montana De La Rosa takes on undefeated fighter Nadia Kassem. Finally, the main card opens up with a bang as light heavyweights Jimmy Crute and Sam Alvey meet. This bout will determine who can make a statement in order to prove they belong in the top 15.

Make sure to tune in Saturday, Feb. 9 for UFC 234. Early prelims start at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time on UFC Fight Pass, leading up to the main card beginning at 7 p.m.  only on Pay-Per-View.

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UFC 234: Whittaker vs Gastelum Preview