Current champion Robert Whittaker will defend his middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in UFC 234. The opening event of the year goes live on Saturday, Feb. 9 in the U.S., but Sunday, Feb. 10 in Australia because of the time zone difference.
Rising star Israel Adesanya is gaining a lot of attention in UFC news. He will fight former middleweight champion Anderson Silva in one of the 11 undercard bouts at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
Both Whittaker (-250) and Adesanya (-650) are big favorites in their respective bouts this weekend (odds provided by Bovada).
UFC Fight Night Odds Explained
Whittaker, Australia’s first homegrown UFC champion, won this title in December 2017 after he dethroned reigning champ George St. Pierre. He is the favorite (-250), while Gastelum (+195) is the overwhelming underdog.
At -250 on Whittaker, a bettor will have to wager $250 to earn a $100 profit ($250 bet + $100 profit = $350 total return).
At +190 on Gastelum, a bettor will have to wager $100 to earn a profit of $190 ($100 bet + $190 profit = $290 total return).
First UFC Event of the Year
The first UFC pay-per-view card of the year may not feature many household names, but it’s certainly a card worth tuning in for and betting on.
Whittaker (20-4) is on a nine-fight tear, including back-to-back wins over Yoel Romero at UFC 213 and UFC 225.
“I feel that Yoel gave me his best in 10 rounds and couldn’t put me away,” the champ said. “I went 10 rounds with a monster. No one else has.”
Gastelum (15-3) is coming off two victories including a first-round knockout of former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, but he still has many obstacles in his way in this battle with the champion.
The biggest factor working against the 27-year-old Gastelum is the time zone difference from California to Australia, which would wear any fighter down. Whittaker has more fights under his belt and also has a reach advantage over his opponent at 73.5 inches, two inches more than Gastelum.
“It’s definitely not a step down,” the 28-year-old Whittaker said of the title bout with Gastelum. “I respect his abilities. He’s a dangerous fighter. I’m going to come in there hungry, with nothing to lose. That’s one of the most dangerous combinations.”
In Whittaker, Gastelum faces an opponent that may be quite similar in style in many respects. Both are former winners of The Ultimate Fighter and both have competed in the UFC’s welterweight division but are finding their best efforts at 185 pounds. Both are hard-working athletes constantly in the gym. They also don’t mix it up much in pre-fight banter.
“When I say things like, ‘I’m going to knock him out in the first round,’ I mean it, but I’m ready for a 25-minute war,” Gastelum said.
We find out this weekend in the Octagon when the American opens fire in enemy territory.