UFC 234 Predictions: Whittaker vs. Gastelum

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UFC 234

UFC 234 is right around the corner. The event takes place inside the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia this Saturday night (Feb. 9). In the main event, Robert Whittaker will defend his UFC middleweight championship against Kelvin Gastelum. The co-main event will see future UFC Hall of Famer Anderson Silva do battle with Israel Adesanya.

MMA News has kept you posted with updates leading up to fight night. That includes the UFC 234 weigh-ins. The time has arrived for our UFC 234 predictions courtesy of myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens.

Here’s how the rest of the UFC 234 main card stacks up:

  • Middleweight: Robert Whittaker (c) vs. Kelvin Gastelum
  • Middleweight: Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya
  • Bantamweight: Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon
  • Women’s Flyweight: Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem
  • Light heavyweight: Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey

Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Fernando Quiles Jr.: Gastelum’s stand-up surely has come a long way. He’s been delivering accurate strikes and has the ability to drop his opponents. As we’ve seen in the Yoel Romero rematch, Whittaker can take a shot. Some will blame the gas tank of Romero for “The Reaper’s” narrow escape but the bottom line is the UFC middleweight champion has durability. I believe Whittaker will be able to land the harder shots to drop the challenger and finish him with ground-and-pound. (Prediction: Robert Whittaker)

Ed Carbajal: Whittaker is the champion but it seems every time he fights, he gets injured and is out for a while. Time off can be good but when it is due to injury it can sometimes create an overly cautious mindset for the return to action. Gastelum has just as much a chance of finishing Whittaker as he does getting finished. Gastelum may have the better ground game but this will likely be a slugfest that favors Gastelum. (Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum)

Andrew Ravens: In my opinion, there should be no doubt that Whittaker gets past Gastelum here. I could be in the minority, but I don’t believe in the hype behind Gastelum as a great challenger. He’s won his last two fights with wins over Michael Bisping in his last fight and edged out Ronaldo Souza by split decision. Whittaker is just on a different level, which is the reason that he’ll beat Gastelum and prove yet again why he’s the champion. (Prediction: Robert Whittaker)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Robert Whittaker

Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya

Fernando Quiles Jr.: Fight fans are hoping to see a barn burner with Adesanya vs. Silva, but it may not go down like that. Silva looked extremely tentative against Derek Brunson. It was clear that Silva was cautious of Brunson’s punching power and I have no reason to believe he won’t do the same against Adesanya. The difference is, Adesanya will let his punches and kicks fly at a much faster rate than Brunson. I think this will be a bad night for the 43-year-old Silva. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Ed Carbajal: This fight could be a test for Adesanya or a changing of the guard for Silva. Adesanya has trail blazed his way through the UFC to get a fight with someone like Silva, but Silva has not been the man he was since his horrific injury. While still a top fighter, he can easily drop Adesanya with his crafty strikes but if he is smart, he will try to submit Adesanya. “The Last Stylebender” may be too fast and a bit craftier in this match-up though, making it hard to pick against him. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Andrew Ravens: In pro wrestling terms, the UFC is hoping that Adesanya will get over as a big star with a win over the future UFC Hall of Famer. Adesanya should win this fight with ease if he shows and delivers with the skills that have gotten him to the dance. Silva is not the same fighter that he was when he was still on top several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, Silva is still dangerous and a very good fighter but not the undefeatable force that he was before. Adesanya moves past the old guard by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Israel Adesanya

Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon

Fernando Quiles Jr.: It’s easy to look at Simon’s 14-1 record and go with him in this fight, but I’m picking Yahya. With 36 professional fights under his belt, Yahya has been around the block. Of course having an experience edge isn’t an automatic victory, but I think Yahya gets it done on the ground to hand Simon his second submission loss. Yayha is the most accomplished grappler Simon has faced since his first defeat and I think it’ll show on Saturday night. (Prediction: Rani Yahya)

Ed Carbajal: Age could be a real factor in this fight just as much conditioning is. Yahya could manhandle Simon into a submission early in the fight, but if it goes longer, Simon could outwork the 34-year-old veteran. This one is hard to pick as chances for a win change the longer the fight goes. Going with experience and seniority, Yahya could add another submission loss to Simon’s record. (Prediction: Rani Yahya)

Andrew Ravens: This could easily be one of the best fights of the night and a hard one to pick. Simon is on a seven-fight winning streak while Yahya is on three-fight winning streak. I have Simon getting it done here in a dominant unanimous decision win to further showcase his skills and prove to fight fans that he’s someone to keep an eye on. (Prediction: Ricky Simon)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Rani Yahya

Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem

Fernando Quiles Jr.: De La Rosa will no doubt be looking for a submission against Kassem. With someone as young as Kassem, grapplers usually lick their chops hoping for a rookie mistake on the ground unless that fighter is a specialist in jiu-jitsu. With that said, I believe Kassem’s pressure will be too much for De La Rosa and she won’t get a chance to utilize her ground game effectively. (Prediction: Nadia Kassem)

Ed Carbajal: Kassem brings a lot of thunder to this fight with four of her five wins coming by way of knockout. However, De La Rosa is not unfamiliar with the dangers of fighting a striker and seems to have the submission skill to finish most of the opponents she has faced. Kassem could drop her, but it is doubtful De La Rosa will give her the chance. (Prediction: Montana De La Rosa)

Andrew Ravens: A close fight that appears to have a guaranteed finish either way. De La Rosa looks to have found a path to victory with three straight submission wins. She also has more experience than Kassem riding into this bout. I think that pays off in the end and see De La Rosa catching her with a submission in the first round to pick up the victory. (Prediction: Montana De La Rosa)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Montana De La Rosa

Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey

Fernando Quiles Jr.: Sam Alvey is a crafty veteran who knows a thing or two about sticking around in a major organization. While Crute is only 22, I don’t think it’s too early for him to get the better of Alvey. Alvey could put him in some tough spots, but I think Crute hangs tough to emerge victorious in his home country. (Prediction: Jim Crute)

Ed Carbajal: Alvey coming off a loss by a second round TKO in September might have him be cautious against a local young fighter like Crute. While Alvey has the power and experience to add Crute to his list of wins by knockout, Crute seems to be good everywhere. This is also in Crute’s hometown so the fight might be a chance for the youngster to get on the UFC’s radar but Alvey could really want back in the win column too. Tough call but going with Crute here. (Prediction: Jim Crute)

Andrew Ravens: A good example of inexperience vs. veteran here as Crute has been on a path of making his name. This is another challenge put in the way of Crute. Although he looked great in his last fight against Paul Craig, I think it’s a bit too soon, and Alvey proves that the young buck needs more time to grow and develop. Alvey gets it done by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Sam Alvey)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Jim Crute

That’ll do it for the UFC 234 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 234.