UFC 234 Preview – Favourites Should Prevail Down Under
February 8, 2019
There is plenty on the line when the UFC goes down under this Saturday night. An existing champion is in search of creating a legacy, with the challenger looking to upset the home crowd. And in the co-headline, fans could see a legend fall, with a new star emerging. Here is our UFC 234 preview and predictions, which also include all the latest UFC 234 betting odds.
Taking place in Melbourne, Australia, fans are being treated to two middleweight clashes, between some of the biggest names in the sport. Headlining the event is the championship bout between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum, where the Australian has been given the opportunity to solidify his short dynasty as the champion in front of his loyal supporters.
Taking place as the co-headliner, a tale for the history books will be written, regardless of the result. Arguably the most hyped fighter on the planet right now, Israel Adesanya can add another name to his list of victims, but this time with the greatest to ever do it. Anderson Silva will be stepping back into the Octagon after a year out, with the hope of achieving a shot at the title before he officially leaves the cage for good.
Two mega bouts consisting of some of the most iconic UFC fighters on the planet – two will fall, and two will be on top of the world come the end of the night.
Here is a list of bookmakers offering the best UFC 234 betting odds.
Whittaker Looking To Make History
As a man who ploughed through the middleweight division, dispatching the likes of Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza, before his epic successive victories over Yoel Romero, it is strange to see the lack of appreciation surrounding Whittaker. Now standing as the no.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the division, the Australian has the potential to create a longstanding legacy at the top.
And what better place to do it? It could be the perfect homecoming for Bobby Knuckles, who is back fighting in his home nation for the first time since 2015. If we rewind back just under four years, to when Whittaker defeated Uriah Hall, the middleweight division was in a bit of a rut. Michael Bisping upset the UFC odds with his shock KO victory over Luke Rockhold shortly after, before a period of interim belts and Romero notoriously missing weight in June last year.
Amongst all the turbulence though, the Reaper emerged as the new top dog and is now the man to beat. Undefeated since 2014, Whittaker’s rise to the top is just as impressive as Max Holloway’s, but when will the Australian receive his just plaudits? The home crowd will undoubtedly be behind him and it feels as though a victory could spell a period of dominance in the middleweight division.
A Slug Fest To Commence?
From a tactical point of view, Whittaker no doubt holds more tools in his locker, with the UFC 234 odds reflecting this. Recognised for his striking power, the Australian will look to capitalise on his 2″ reach advantage and keep Gastelum at bay with his quick jabs and head movement. As Dan Hardy pointed out in Inside the Octagon, it was the persistent counter punches that were so effective against Romero, and his left hook could provide the Southpaw with some issues.
Provided with the opportunity though, Gastelum may look to shoot at Whittaker and try take the fight to the ground when possible. Not exactly the largest middleweight of the division’s elite, the American has gained a notorious reputation for his speed andlight workk on his feet. Hardy gave explicit examples on how Gastelum tried to draw Chris Weidman in during their bout in 2018, before pouncing with such precision on his opponent. The speed of the Eddie Bravo student makes the 27-year-old such a tough fighter to stand up to, as his movement of the body makes his actions so hard to predict. Just take the Michael Bisping fight as the prime example – the American was calm and calculated to evade Bisping’s big overhand, before countering with the quick right and huge left hook.
It was the one-two that also proved successful against Ronaldo Souza, but Gastelum’s defence was questioned by fans watching UFC 224. Against Whittaker, he cannot afford to be so sloppy and his movement will need to match the controlling stance that the Aussie will adopt. In the centre of the Octagon, Whittaker will also look to capitalise on his lead leg to also keep the distance, and all these tools should be too much for Gastelum to handle.
Expect fireworks to fly in the middle of the ring with this encounter. Having stood up twice to the highly-acclaimed Romero though, I find it hard seeing Whittaker lose this bout via a TKO or KO. Many fans may have disputed the Aussie’s second victory over the Soldier of God, but he is the man with the belt draped over his shoulder and he will be desperate to defend his title in front of 15,000 fans. His technique of holding the jab and attacking his opponent from the outside should be too much for Gastelum. He is the favourite amongst the UFC 234 odds and I cannot see anything but a trademark, champion performance from the defender here.
Official Prediction: Robert Whittaker via TKO Round Three – 8-1 with Unibet
Black Panther vs Spiderman
No, this is not the fight that all Marvel fans have been dying to see. This is the middleweight matchup between Adesanya and Silva, although both fighters would make incredible superheroes. Leading up to UFC 234, Adesanya has stated that he grew up wanting to be a ‘power ranger’ or a ‘teenage mutant ninja turtle’ – well, some of these fictional characters draw close comparison to the African-born star.
Bursting onto the scene with his UFC debut with a second-round victory over Rob Wilkinson, the Last Stylebender has caught the attention of fans through his explosive, athletic and dynamic style of fighting. His timing and precision whilst standing is so efficient, as he controls the distance between himself and his opponent with such perfection. Adesanya enjoys picking off his opponents whilst maintaining his stance, before closing the gap and unleashing the heat emphatically. He will simply wear you down with consistent pressure, before looking for the knee – just ask Derek Brunson.
There couldn’t be a stronger mismatch in the two fighters this Saturday though. Adesanya, the young, hungry figure will step into the Octagon looking to extend his perfect record to 16-0, and he will be hoping that this victory will spur on a legacy similar to his opponent. Silva, the greatest middleweight to ever do it, is, however, entering the cage as the massive underdog amongst the UFC 234 odds.
Many have questioned Silva’s intentions with this match-up, with many fans speculating that Dana White must have promised the all-time great a title shot if he runs out victorious on Saturday night. At 44 years of age, this is not the same Brazilian that we saw during his dominating streak from 2006-2012 and it is a big ask coming up against a healthier fighter like Adesanya. However, it is hard to rule out the GOAT and as Daniel Cormier said, this is the biggest fight you can hope for outside of a title bout.
Adesanya v Silva Prediction
Despite the two fighters playing down such claims, fans cannot help but draw comparisons between Adesanya and Silva’s techniques. As the more agile fighter, it is the New Zealander who will be trying to keep the fight on his feet, and he will most likely be the one trying to instigate the offensive strikes from the off. Undoubtedly a fighter who is not afraid to mix his game up, the Stylebender has the potential to pose numerous issues to Silva, who may struggle against Adesanya’s long punches.
When it comes to the fight going to the ground, Silva doesn’t necessarily have a major advantage here either. Down the years, we have seen the Brazilian opt for a standing position in his fights, and he has struggled against world-class wrestlers throughout his career. Luckily though, this is not exactly where Adesanya’s strengths lie either. On paper, the fight should be taking place in the centre of the Octagon, with both fighters relying on a counterattack to win the bout.
However, I do believe that Silva can at least ‘faint’ to shoot at Adesanya and put that doubt in the New Zealander’s mind. In his last fight against Brunson, the Stylebender excelled in his takedown defence and weathered the early storm well. Holding a takedown defence rate of 85.00%, there isn’t a clear weakness in the game of Adesanya, but Brunson did get a few clinches in on the 29-year-old. Silva may look to capitalise on his clinches in the first round, but if he doesn’t experience any early success, he has the adaptivity to revert back to striking.
It certainly is an intriguing matchup, but a strange one at that. Loyal fans of the UFC never like to see the Spider lose, and we can never officially rule him out of contention. However, we cannot let sentimentalism blur our vision for the fight and realistically, anything other than an Adesanya victory will be considered a huge upset. Across some of the UFC 234 odds, you can find Silva being priced with value as big as 9/2 with Betfred. With much more to lose than this opponent, Adesanya should prevail and justify that the hype is, indeed, real.
Official Prediction: Israel Adesanya via TKO Round Three – 9/1 with MansionBet
UFC 234 Betting Odds
The two main fights on this card are simply unmissable. Both exciting in their own respected ways, UFC 234 is destined to be an event that grips the attention of fans, of whom some will be cheering, and others left heartbroken.
In the co-headline, Adesanya certainly has more to lose than gain, but another win would only solidify all the hype surrounding this exciting fighter. Silva may not be in his prime, but the Brazilian will always pose questions to his opponent. With a potential title bout on the line with a victory, the Spider will be keen to showcase that he still has an injection of venom in his strikes. He has reiterated the fact that he has nothing to prove to anybody, but he has the chance to put his name up in the lights with an upset on the night.
For the main event, we have a middleweight championship on the line. Whittaker put in two phenomenal displays against Romero, to which he showcased just how many skills he has in his locker. Of course, there is the question as to how much of the Aussie’s health deteriorated in those two bouts – that third round in their rematch was simply crazy. Heading into the fight as the favourite amongst the UFC 234 odds, he is, however, heavily expected to triumph over Gastelum.
In my UFC 234 predictions, I’m going for both the favourites, who should have too much on the night for their respected opponents. It should be an unforgettable one too, with there being a serious buzz captivating social media on these two specific events. Make sure to come back for the UFC 235 preview!
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As an experienced sports writer, Josh has been published across various different platforms, writing about his beloved club Manchester United and other footballing topics. He also covers a range of other sports, specialising in UFC and Formula One.