How to bet UFC 234: Whittaker vs. Gastelum 👊

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How to bet UFC 234: Whittaker vs. Gastelum


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The UFC heads to Australia on Saturday for a pay-per-view card that should add clarity to the future of the middleweight division. The main event features the now undisputed champion, Robert Whittaker, against new challenger Kelvin Gastelum in a bout which looks fascinating on paper.

The co-main event brings back long-time GOAT candidate Anderson Silva in a strange new role as middleweight gatekeeper against rising phenom Israel Adesanya. While Silva is the biggest underdog on the card (a first for the former champion), the statistical matchup suggests two of the sharpest strikers in the division's history fueling what could be a fan-friendly, nearly super-hero like duel of fisticuffs and matrix-like dodges.

Currently Whittaker and Adesanya are the clear betting favorites. Is there upset potential in either matchup? Could Gastelum shake up the division, or could Silva add a miracle ending to his storied career? Otherwise, Whittaker could solidify his reign and open up the challenger queue, while Adesanya could win his way to the top of that contender list.

UFC middleweight title matchup: champion Robert Whittaker (-250) vs. No. 4 Kelvin Gastelum (+210)

Tale Of The Tape
Last fight weight classMiddleweightMiddleweight
Current age2728
Height (in)6972
Reach (in)71.573
StanceSouthpawOrthodox
Analyzed minutes165160
Standup striking offense
Career knockdown ratio
(Scored : Received)
9:18:4
Distance knockdown rate4.3%2.1%
Head jab accuracy34%30%
Head power accuracy33%32%
Total standup strike ratio1.21.2
Striking defense
Total head strike defense72%75%
Distance knockdown
defense ("Chin")
100%98%
Wrestling and grappling
TD attempts/minute
(Standing/clinch)
0.140.05
Takedown accuracy50%57%
Advances per
takedown/top control
1.12.5
Opponent takedown attempts6263
Takedown defense63%84%
Share of total ground
time in control
47%63%
Submission attempts
per trip to ground
0.060.00

Gastelum is no stranger to a size disparity, yet having settled into his role at middleweight, some physical matchups will be more challenging than this one. Whittaker is not a big middleweight, making the uphill battle to which Gastelum is accustomed more fair here. Factor in Gastelum's unorthodox stance, and the slight reach differential becomes a wash on paper. We're left with two fighters in peak form of their late 20's, meaning they should be able to engage in a high-paced firefight longer than other fighters.

And it could be just that. Whittaker hardly attempts any takedowns at all, while Gastelum attempts less than half the UFC average, despite having capably utilized his wrestling base in earlier fights. If the two stand and trade, you'll see two very accurate strikers who prefer to press the pace and outwork opponents. So the question will be who wins the "arms" race early on. While Whittaker has slightly better strike avoidance and uses a higher pace of strikes, Gastelum has twice the knockdown rate when connecting. The standup duel will be an interesting one, and might boil down to which fighter has better film preparation and is quicker to time his opponent.

Should Gastelum decide to change levels and attempt to stifle Whittaker's standup game, Gastelum will need to set it up with his hands, as Whittaker's takedown defense is very high at 84 percent. That's a wild card, but if Gastelum is smart, he takes his time luring Whittaker into slinging leather before setting it up.


E+ recommends: It's a rare and dangerous away-game champion upset pick. We'll suggest keeping the unit size small, but at a payout of more than 2-to-1 odds for Gastelum, he's worth it given the coin-flip matchup stats. Gastelum's speedy hands could offer the more violent individual strikes, and he has the superior grappling game as a backup plan. If his odds rise further, also consider a Gastelum inside the distance prop if it gets anywhere near +300.

Given the youth and resiliency of both men, the fight could take some time to develop, so we don't expect an early finish despite this being a five-round middleweight bout. Round totals haven't been released yet, but we'd agree with 4.5 rounds as the appropriate limit and don't expect much value on the table there. Both have knockout potential, Gastelum a bit more, but it could come late after damage has accumulated.
Odds and ends


In the co-main event, Anderson Silva is currently a huge underdog to up-and-coming star Israel Adesanya, who was rapidly rebooked after knocking out top-10 ranked opponent Derek Brunson in November. Silva, known for his elusiveness and dangerously accurate power striking, might be handing down his mantle to Adesanya, who has already become the most accurate power striker in the division to date. While Adesanya might regress toward the mean in that metric, the combination of his speed, accuracy and power against Silva's 43-year-old brain is not a combination that will work out for the older legend. The odds are so steep as to diminish the value of betting Adesanya straight up, but his T/KO or 'Inside the Distance' prop bets are much more affordable at below -200 odds.
 
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