Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
|Date & Time||Saturday February 9, 2019, 11:45 PM (EST)|
Rod Laver Arena
The Line: Whittaker -254 / Gastelum +226 -- Over/Under:
Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum fight Saturday during UFC 234 at the Rod Laver Arena.
Fight Has Been Canceled Due to a Whittaker Injury
Robert Whittaker enters this fight with a 21-4 record and has won 48 percent of his fights by knockout. Whittaker has won each of his last nine fights and is coming off a June win over Yoel Romero. Whittaker is averaging 4.82 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 40 percent. Whittaker is averaging 0.37 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 57 percent. Whittaker still hasn’t lost since his 2014 bout against Stephen Thompson and each of his last four fights have earned performance bonuses, including his last fight that was widely considered the fight of the year. Whittaker has quickly become one of the more entertaining fighters in the sport, and he’s certainly one of the most dominating the past few years. Whittaker is a high volume, powerful striker who lands 70 percent of his shots at the head and has produced knockouts in four of his last eight fights. Whittaker is more than willing to trade blows in the octagon, and despite sometimes being hit more than you’d like to see, he’s only been knocked out once in his career. Whittaker also has a wrestling background, so he’s more than comfortable on the canvas and his conditioning is some of the best in the middleweight division. This will be Whittaker’s 16th career fight in Australia, his birthplace.
Kelvin Gastelum enters this fight with a 15-3 record and has won 40 percent of his fights by knockout. Gastelum has won four of his last five fights and is coming off a May win over Ronaldo Souza. Gastelum is averaging 3.86 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 43 percent. Gastelum is averaging 0.82 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 50 percent. Gastelum has won five of his last six fights if you include the knockout win over Vitor Belfort, and he’s earned performance bonuses in each of his last two fights. Gastelum has produced knockouts in four of his last six victories and is a threat to land a clean shot both in the clinch and on the canvas. Gastelum has such a clean combination standing up and it’s usually the turning point in the fight when it lands. Gastelum has such great technique to his striking attack and he’s shown his chin is up there with any in the sport, as he’s never been finished by knockout. Once Gastelum finds an opening and gets his timing down, he’s highly aggressive and is looking to put away his opponent. This will be Gastelum’s first career fight in Australia.
You could make a strong case for either of these fighters, as both are high quality strikers and should be in their comfort zone in this bout. This has another performance of the night written all over it with two guys likely trading serious strikes until somebody potentially drops. Gastelum as this big of an underdog is worth a strong look and I seriously considered backing him given the price. However, Whittaker is still the class of the middleweight division and has a two inch reach advantage, which is key in a fight that’s likely going to feature a ton of stand up striking. Whittaker has an odd stance that allows him to do a lot of damage without getting hit. He gets in and out with the best of them and is so damn frustrating in a stand up fight. Whittaker has also been very kind to bettors, as five of his last eight wins have come as an underdog. Whittaker is also 14-1 when fighting his home country of Australia. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I like Whittaker to win his 10th straight bout.