Possible Fireworks Down Under for UFC 234
On the surface UFC 234’s main card may not deliver on the star power but for fans who like striking and finishes this card should deliver in exciting fights what it lacks in big names. The UFC will return to Australia as its Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker will get a chance to defend his belt in front of his countrymen vs the sneaky dangerous Kelvin Gastelum. The card will also see an old legend Anderson Silva take on his supposed next generation version of himself in Israel Adesanya. I imagine due the time zone issues of having a PPV event in Australia it likely led the UFC to lean heavily on promoting their Aussie and New Zealander stars at the expense of some high-profile fights that typically land on a pay-per-view event. However, I think fans who do tune in to this card will get rewarded with some high energy and high level striking bouts with a good probability at seeing multiple finishes. No burger-meter this week so we’ll just get down and dirty into a fight predictions to hopefully help your bank accounts. Let’s get to the card:
Middleweight Title Fight (185 lbs)
Kelvin Gastelum (#4) vs Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker (Champion)
Preview: Robert Whittaker appears to have dynamite in his fists and after his recent successful defense against a monster like Yoel Romero many wonder if anyone in the Middleweight division has the skill set to take his belt from him. Kelvin Gastelum on the surface doesn’t appear like a man is capable of doing such a task. He’s small for the Middleweight division, is not the elite level wrestling Romero is, and has yet to knockout out anyone at Middleweight with Whittaker’s iron-like chin. However, this is exactly what has made Gastelum such a problem for middleweights who’ve fallen to him since he moved up from welterweight in 2016 and starched Tim Kennedy. Gastelum is 3-1 with 1 ‘no contest’ since moving up to middleweight.
He’s beaten bigger more physically imposing men like Bisping and Jacare because he is consistently underestimated for his weight class. He may not hit the hardest but he can hit hard enough, he may not be the fastest but he’s faster than most think, and in a sport that a small let down or window can change the entire course of a fight; the fact that Gastelum gets underestimated might be his biggest asset of all. Whittaker will have a clear size and power advantage over the challenger but he also has allowed himself to get hit more frequently in his most recent bouts. He trusts his power to carry the day but against a sneaky quick fighter like Gastelum he must be careful to not take unnecessary punishment or risk getting stunned by the smaller fighter.
I expect Gastelum to try to earn Whittaker’s respect from the opening bell, it’s his only chance to prevent getting walked down for 5 rounds. He must establish he’s fast and powerful enough to hurt Whittaker. It has been a little over 7 months since Whittaker was last in the cage so he may want to start a little slower to get his legs under him and get Gastelum’s timing down. I think Whittaker is clearly the favorite in this fight but that first round could get very interesting if Gastelum pushes the pace and surprises the champion with a power shot.
Odds: Whittaker (-265) vs Gastelum (+215)
Prediction: I’m tempted to take a flyer on a guy like Gastelum who’s done a lot of winning as a underdog at 185 pounds. Whittaker has all the pressure, coming off a decent layoff, fighting in front of his home crowd against an opponent he may not believe is in his class as a fighter. However, the level of granite in Whittaker’s chin to date has been staggering. You add in that he can hurt any man in his division with a single punch and it makes me struggle to find reasonable ways Gastelum wins this fight.
If I thought Gastelum could stop Whittaker with a barrage of strikes I might take a value bet on him but I worry even if Gastelum hits Whittaker clean he might not be able to finish him. This is a dangerous place to be for Gastelum who is undersized vs a striker who’s knocked out men bigger than him. You won’t get much value on Whittaker unless you bet him by stoppage so I think the real value lies in taking an under bet if you like Whittaker by stoppage as it gives a small chance on Gastelum if he pulls off a huge upset on the champion.
(Under 4.5 rounds (-130))
Anderson “The Spider” Silva (15th) vs Israel “The Last Style Bender” Adesanya (6th) (Middleweight 185lbs)
Preview: Looking at purely a ranking and meaningful fight angle this bout doesn’t pass the sniff test as a co-main event on a Fight Night card let alone a PPV event. However, the UFC can sell Anderson Silva on a PPV so the fight got made. Israel Adesanya is one of the few new electrifying talents the UFC presently has on their roster and they are looking for a way to show off his skills while giving him a larger platform to grow his name to a wider audience. What better way to raise Adesanya’s profile than to have him be the man to put the nail into Anderson Silva’s coffin.
Anderson Silva is a living legend and unquestionably one of the biggest names to ever grace the sport of mixed martial arts let alone the UFC. However, in the fight business father time remains unconquered and even the greatest get conquered if they fight long enough. At 43 years of age having lost 4 of his last 6 fights and not having fought in a year ‘The Spider’ faces what may end up being his final foe. He is the largest underdog of his career in the UFC and by all measurable he is at a severe disadvantage against the bigger, stronger, faster, and younger fighter. Silva is going to need multiple trips in the way back machine to even make it out of the 2nd round against Adesanya.
Odds: Adesanya (-770) vs Silva (+470)
Prediction: I’d love to see a throwback performance from Silva to make this fight interesting in spots but at this age, recent lack luster performances, and nearly a year out of the octagon I think this one is a slaughterhouse. If Silva was a great wrestler he may have a shot to control or mitigate Adesanya in spots. However, everything Silva wants or likes to do; Adesanya does it better. This has all the makings of a really spectacular but potentially sad knockout of a all-time legend writing his final chapter.
(Under 1.5 rounds +150)
Rani Yahya (15th) vs Ricky Simon (Bantamweight 135 lbs)
Odds: Yahya (+110) vs Simon (-130)
Prediction: I would like this fight more if it was on a undercard and not the 3rd fight on a PPV main card but this is where it ends up. Two contrasting style bantamweights go toe to toe in what could end up being a great back and forth chess match or a snoozer.
I’m thinking we will get more of the former as Simon is looking to vault into the Bantamweight rankings and Yahya is riding a 3 fight win streak he’s hoping can get him a top 10 matchup in the future. Simon must stay off the mat and off of his back if he has any hopes of getting the better of Yahya. I’m not sure if he can which is why I like the value i’m getting with the veteran Yahya who is a dangerous man capable of tapping just about anyone in the 135lbs division if he gets his hooks sunk into you. I think Yahya gets the submission late in the 3rd round.
Montana De La Rosa (14th) vs Nadia Kassem (Women’s Flyweight 115 lbs)
Odds: De La Rosa (-250) vs Kassem (+220)
Prediction: The UFC trying to build up their women’s flyweight division but putting to total unknowns to the larger MMA let alone general public on a main card of a PPV is not the way to go about doing so. This will be a good test for De La Rosa to see if she’s legimately ready for a top 10 fight in the flyweight divsion if she can get by Kassem but this has no business being on a PPV and the types of fights that get fans to cringe at paying huge money for subpar fights.
(Da La Rosa by Stoppage -250)
Jimmy Crute vs Sam ‘Smile N’ Alvey (Light heavyweight 205 lbs)
Odds: Crute (-135) vs Alvey(+110)
Prediction: Jimmy Crute will get the first real test of his UFC career against a game and savy vet in Sam Alvey. Crute will fight in front of his hometown so there is some added pressure to perform in his largest fight of his career. Alvey is coming off a bad knockout loss and one has to wonder how many more fights does he have left in the tank. Crute will likely to try to jump on him early and find out. I can’t trust Alvey’s chin at this point in his career despite him being a tremendous warrior for so many years. I think Crute clips him early and gets a finish or submission early in this fight.
Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (77-54-1) (+$1700.50)
- Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
- Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
All stats provided from http://UFC.COM & http://www.fightmetric.com/
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