UFC 234: The UFC will stage its first pay-per-view of 2019 from Australia, and fight fans at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne home of the Australian Open will see two massive middleweight matchups. Robert Whittaker will put his middleweight championship on the line against challenger Kelvin Gastelum, while Israel Adesanya can earn himself a title shot by taking down UFC legend Anderson Silva.
Event: UFC 234
Player: Whittaker vs Gastelum
Date: Saturday, February 10, 2019
Game Time: 10 p.m. ET
234 UFC which pits middleweight champion Robert Whittaker against Kelvin Gastelum. The main card gets underway at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday from Melbourne, Australia. Whittaker was raised in Australia, making Saturday’s fight a homecoming of sorts, and his last two bouts have gone to a decision after five rounds.
Keys to Victory: Whittaker is a fantastic kickboxer. Relying on great natural speed and smart combinations, Whittaker moves in-and-out on opponents with damaging blows, often far too quick for any counter shot. In addition, the improvements to Whittaker’s defensive wrestling over the years have been dramatic.
Keys to Victory: Gastelum is not a complicated fighter, but he’s a damn effective one. The Southpaw uses his wrestling background mostly to keep fights standing, where his piston like left hand almost always finds the chin of his opponent at some point.
Gastelum may be an underdog without the many offensive weapons of his opponent, but that left hand is a game-changer. There’s a clear path to victory for Gastelum, one that relies on copying Yoel Romero’s most recent strategy: aggressive counter punching.
Whittaker has great defensive tendencies, but he’s a high-volume striker. The nature of his style means he is constantly putting himself in danger even if he’s doing the right things to avoid getting hit. Gastelum’s left is one of the best in the business, and it often lands as his opponent withdraws their own strikes.
Gastelum has to make a decision early to counter kicks with punches. Romero scored his first knockdown on Whittaker by stinging the Aussie with an overhand while Whittaker was on one leg, and Gastelum should be looking to do the same. Furthermore, constantly trying to smash Whittaker mid-kick will help Gastelum negotiate that range disadvantage.