UFC 234: Preview and Predictions
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Friday, February 8, 2019
The UFC are bringing a big event to Australia this weekend featuring countryman Robert Whittaker defending his UFC middleweight championship against former Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum and the return of Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, who takes on rising star Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya in the co-main event.
There is a lot of intrigue surrounding this event because UFC President Dana White has mentioned that the winner of the main-event and co-main events will be fighting one another next for the middleweight championship. Also on this card, Rani Yahya, who is currently on a three-fight winning streak, takes on Ricky Simon in a bantamweight bout, Montana De La Rosa battles Nadia Kassem in women’s flyweight action, and Jim Crute takes on Sam Alvey in a light-heavyweight bout.
UFC Middleweight Championship: Robert Whittaker (c) vs Kelvin Gastelum
Reigning UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will look to put on a show for his home crowd when he defends his title against Kelvin Gastelum. The champion Whittaker has been on an impressive nine-fight win streak and has become one of the top fighters in the world since making the move from welterweight to middleweight with many notable wins; he has defeated Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, and Yoel Romero twice.
Gastelum on the other hand is no stranger to being counted out and going into a fight as the underdog. Since his time on The Ultimate Fighter, Gastelum has continued to prove the doubters wrong and earned the title shot against Whittaker. Although Gastelum isn’t on a nine-fight win streak, he has defeated some top fighters as well including: former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, Uriah Hall, Vitor Belfort, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, and former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
I feel that Gastelum is a great matchup for Whittaker and could make for an exciting fight considering he has been able to pull of upsets in the past most notably during The Ultimate Fighter, when he was the last fighter selected and ended up winning the season after defeating Uriah Hall, who had been the odds on favorite to win at the time.
With that said, I think it’ll be a great back-and-forth fight with Whittaker coming out still the UFC middleweight champion. He’s been on such an impressive run and maybe now in his home country a big win gets him more respect in terms of where he ranks when compared to other champions in the UFC.
With both the main-event and co-main event featuring middleweight bouts, this title fight could be a great way to build interest in the division.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker retains
Co-Main Event: Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva vs Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya
The fight that most fans are looking forward to is the middleweight bout between Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya. The fight is so intriguing because Adesanya is essentially the modern day version of Anderson Silva in terms of his unorthodox style and how he’s able to finish his opponents. Stylebender’s fighting style, performances, and personality has made him a fan favorite in his short time with the UFC.
Anderson Silva will be fighting for first time since February 2017, when he defeated Derek Brunson by unanimous decision. Silva had been scheduled to fight Kelvin Gastelum later that year however, the bout didn’t come to fruition because Silva had been flagged by USADA for a failed drug test. After USADA ruled that Silva’s failed test was a result of a contaminated substance, the 43-year old was eligible to return to active competition and the promotion immediately set up the fight with Adesanya.
Although Silva hasn’t had the best of performances in his recent fights, he is still without question one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time. Silva’s reign as middleweight champion was one of the sport’s most dominant reigns and saw him defeat the top middleweights in the UFC with ease and even move up and dominate opponents at light-heavyweight.
Silva defended the UFC middleweight championship ten times, defeating a who’s-who of fighters including: Rich Franklin twice, Dan Henderson, Demian Maia, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen twice. With both fighters having a similar fighting style, Silva is still a dangerous opponent for Adesanya, so fans will definitely be in for a exciting stand-up fight that will likely end by KO or TKO.
Prediction: Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya wins
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Photo Credit: bjpenn.com