UFC 234 takes place tomorrow night in Australia and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Main Card (PPV)
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
This middleweight title clash could well prove to be a striking battle and an interesting one at that.
Gastelum has big stopping power in his fists and complements that with quick hand speed too, but he doesn’t have a particularly wide selection of offensive weaponry and that makes him somewhat predictable.
Whittaker will apply a lot of pressure, has a height and reach advantage and puts together the kind of potent combinations that can leave opponents in over their heads.
I’d expect the champion’s pace and pressure to be key factors in this fight, especially with Gastelum never having gone into the championship rounds before and not neccessarily being perfectly suited to the middleweight division.
I do have some concerns about the toll Whittaker’s repeated injury woes may have taken, not to mention two very hard fight with Yoel Romero back-to-back, but overall I feel he’s the better striker here and can keep this fight upright and emerge with a decision victory to retain his title.
Robert Whittaker wins by decision.
Israel Adesanya vs. Anderson Silva
At this stage in his career this looks to be a very tough fight for the 43-year-old Silva, going up against a young lion on the rise in Adesanya.
In his prime Silva had everything you could hope for from an elite level striker, but after a laundry list of set-backs inside and outside of the Octagon that began with his back-to-back defeats against Chris Weidman, the Brazilian ace is no longer that same supremely confident fighter he once was, and his chin, his speed and his reaction-time have all deteriorated significantly.
That doesn’t mean he’s not still capable of something special and he’ll still carry power that Adesanya will have to be wary of, but the younger man also has a formidable offensive arsenal and is in his prime.
Adesanya will have a height and reach advantage, which he’ll use effectively from range, being able to manage distance well, while also finding plenty of opportunities for the kind of flashy and creative striking techniques that have helped mark him as a star.
I think Adesanya is going to prove to be simply too much for Silva here and will highlight how much his Matrix-like skills have diminished by knocking him out, if not in the first round then by the end of the second.
Israel Adesanya wins by KO in Rd2.
Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon
A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Yahya really doesn’t have a lot of offer on the feet at all, but that hasn’t stopped him from racking up 7 wins from his last 8 fights.
Simon is a more well-rounded fighter, but he’ll certainly be cautious about using his wrestling to bring Yahya down as that could spell big trouble due to the submission threat.
As such, Simon is more likely to be aiming to keep this one standing where he should have the advantage, but I think Yahya will find his opportunities to get this fight to the mat one way or another, and will then capitalize on that by notching up his fourth submission win in a row.
Rani Yahya wins by submission in Rd2.
Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem
Kassem has shown some promise by defeating Alex Chambers in her UFC debut after a 4-0 start to her career in which she was essentially fighting novices, but there’s still a lot of unanswered questions about her, not to mention the fact that she’s been out of action for over a year and missed weight last time out, which prompted her move up to 125lbs for this fight.
De La Rosa is a little more of a known quantity and though Kassem has shown some grappling ability I believe it’s she who will have the advantage on the mat and that will be her key to victory here, tapping out her less experienced opponent in the second round.
Montana De La Rosa wins by submission in Rd2.
Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey
This is a decent test to see where the 22-year-old Crute stands at this moment in time, having so far shown himself to have an aggressive striking game and last time out demonstrating some grappling ability too.
Alvey is a dangerous fighter as he possesses dynamite in his right hand, but he has a very slow paced, plodding approach and can be very predictable as he waits for the right moment to land that bombing counter punch that could end the fight.
Crute will need to be careful he doesn’t get too carried away looking for a finish on the feet here, but if he is mindful of what Alvey is looking to do I think he can successfully oustrike him and emerge with a decision victory.
Jim Crute wins by decision.
Prelims (ESPN) (Predicted winners in bold)
Devonte Smith vs. Dong Hyun Ma
Shane Young vs. Austin Arnett
Kai-Kara France vs. Raulian Paiva
Teruto Ishihara vs. Kyung Ho Kang
Prelims (Fight Pass)
Lando Vannata vs. Marcos Rosa
Jalin Turner vs. Callan Potter
Wuliji Buren vs. Jonathan Martinez