Main Card (PPV)
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
This should be an entertaining headliner as Australia’s own Whittaker looks to defend his middleweight title in his own backyard against the dangerous Gastelum.
Both men are strikers first and foremost, with the stocky Gastelum being heavier-handed than the champion and also having greater hand-speed to go with it.
However, he’ll be giving up both height and reach to ‘The Reaper,’ and his offensive arsenal isn’t nearly as varied or technical as Whittaker, who fights at a high tempo and pieces together his strikes effectively with potent combinations.
It’s a pace that Gastelum should be able to hang with for the most part as he doesn’t overexert himself, but he doesn’t have five-round experience to call upon and at middleweight it’ll be interesting to see how his cardio is going to hold up in the championship rounds.
On the other hand, Whittaker has had to navigate through two very tough 25 minute encounters with Yoel Romero that may have taken somewhat of a toll, while he has also had his fair share of injuries to contend with in recent years.
Nevertheless, while this is a fight that could go either way I think Whittaker’s greater offensive output and forward drive are going to make the difference here and he’ll take even more control of the action in the later rounds to secure a decision victory.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker to win by decision – BET NOW
Israel Adesanya vs. Anderson Silva
If Silva was still in his prime this would be an incredible fight, but as things stand it does feel like at 43-years-old the legendary fighter has a daunting challenge ahead of him against the undefeated Adesanya, who at 29 is riding a wave of momentum.
Silva simply hasn’t looked the same since he broke his leg against Chris Weidman all the way back in 2013, and the marked decrease in his performances since then has been hard to watch, not to mention his use of tainted supplements that has dented his reputation.
He’s now returning after a two year absence following a highly questionable win over Derek Brunson to face a tremendous talent in Adesanya, who has been lighting up the Octagon with his creative, eye-catching striking, but he also has a very good understanding of how to operate at range and that will be enhanced by utilizing his height and reach advantage here.
Of course Silva is capable of lightning-in-a-bottle moments himself so he can never be completely overlooked, but his speed, reflexes and chin have all suffered in his late 30’s and early 40’s and that’s a major concern here.
As such I believe he’s going to pay the price for not being able to resist the urge to return to the Octagon, with ‘The Last Stylebender’ finding the strikes to put him away by TKO.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya wins by TKO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon
Yahya is a true specialist, concentrating almost solely on his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is a rare thing in the UFC in this day and age, and he’s done so to good effect as well, having won 7 of his last 8 fights.
Simon has more strings to his bow and should have a comfortable advantage on the feet, while he also has good wrestling and could work for takedowns if he so chooses.
However, that could be a risky strategy as Yahya will be only too happy to go to the mat and look to lock up a submission.
With that in mind I think Simon is more likely to aim to keep this one standing, but I think one way or another Yahya is going to find a way to bring this fight to the mat and will rack up his fourth submission victory in a row inside of ten minutes.
Prediction: Rani Yahya to win by submission in Rd2 – BET NOW
Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem
Kassem did well to win her UFC debut against Alex Chambers given that she’d never really fought anybody of any note whatsover during her previous four pro-fights.
She’d won those early fights by strikes in the opening round, but against Chambers she was able to showcase a developing ground game too.
However, Kassem came in overweight for that bout and has now moved up to 125lbs, plus has been out of action for over a year due to injury issues, so she’s very much still a work-in-progress.
Meanwhile, De La Rosa is more naturally suited to this weight class and while she’s not much of a striker, I’d expect her to have the stronger wrestling here and be able to catch the less experienced Kaseem in a second round submission.
Prediction: Montana De La Rosa to win by submission in Rd2 – BET NOW
Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey
Crute will be given a chance to impress on home soil when he opens up the UFC 234 PPV against Alvey on Saturday night following a successfully debut late last year.
Crute is only 22-years-old, but is already showing the making of a well-rounded MMA game, showing surprising grappling chops in his first UFC fight against Paul Craig to go alongside his solid striking.
In all honesty Alvey is something of a one-trick pony. He’s got KO power in his right hand, but he has a very limited offensive output, simply waiting to land that one bomb on the counter all fight long with little going on in-between.
I expect Crute to offer a lot more than that on the feet, while steering clear of the predictable Alvey counter en-route to a decision victory.
Prediction: Jimmy Crute to win by decision – BET NOW
Prelims (Fox Sports 1)
(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
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Lando Vannata vs. Marcos Rosa
Jalin Turner vs. Callan Potter
Wuliji Buren vs. Jonathan Martinez