Kelvin Gastelum vs Robert Whittaker Odds Preview – February 10 2019

kelvin gastelum
Kelvin Gastelum

UFC 234 heads Down Under in February and at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, MMA fans can look forward to a packed card. There are some mouthwatering match ups throughout the bill but at the very top is this Middleweight Championship clash between Gastelum and Whittaker.

Kelvin Gastelum is the challenger and Australian Robert Whittaker will be mounting his defence in front of his home crowd but what do the sportsbooks make of it all?

The Card

The full card for UFC 234 is a busy one with no fewer than eight fights, starting with a bantamweight clash between Teruto Ishihara and Kyung Ho Kang. A number of minor bouts follow before an interesting clash just ahead of the main event with another middleweight challenge between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva.

It’s a card that possibly has quantity over quality and in all honesty, it was always going to be tough to match the excitement of UFC 232 at the end of 2018. However, there is no doubting the magnitude of the main event between Gastelum and Whittaker.

Result Betting

With just over a month before the two men step into the Octagon, the sportsbooks have a clear favourite with defending champion Robert Whittaker ahead at best industry odds of 4/9 with Betway. That figure leaves Kelvin Gastelum following on at a top price of 2/1 with Pinnacle Sports but have the bookmakers got that right?

robert whittaker
Robert Whittaker

Whittaker comes into this battle as the reigning champion having first claimed the UFC middleweight title against Yoel Romero back in 2017. His overall record stands at 20 wins from 24 pro MMA fights with 14 of those victories coming inside the distance.

His opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, has slightly less experience although his record does stack up against the champion. In 19 fights since turning professional, the 27 year old American has 15 wins with ten of those victories coming before the end of the fight in question.

We have a relatively tight market for this battle and the stats tend to back up the bookmakers’ thoughts but if you don’t see too much value in the outright result odds, what are the alternatives?

Other Betting Options

While we have a full set of result options from around the sportsbooks, the early ante post markets have yet to list any prop bets. That situation will surely change in the lead up to the first bell and when it does, there should be some interesting punts on offer.

Perhaps the most common of these is Method of Victory and we’ve seen that with both fighters, the winning methods are split fairly evenly. For the defending champion Robert Whittaker, nine of his 20 wins have come by knockout with five by submission and six by decision.

Moving over to Kelvin Gastelum, that record changes to 15 wins, six by knockout with four by submission and five by decision. That’s a very even split which would make the Method of Victory bet a very tough one to call but it should also leave some value in the odds when they are declared.

We would edge towards a decision for one of the fighters, based on their respective records, and that would also suggest betting on the fight to go the distance. Those markets are for the future but the obvious question now is – who is going to win.

Verdict

In contrast with the boxing year, we saw relatively few upsets in MMA across 2018 so some punters could have made a constant profit by backing the favourites in most UFC headlining bouts. That could be the case here with Whittaker the defending champion and having more experience, despite there being little to choose between the two men in terms of age.

The records are, however, very similar in terms of win percentages and while Whittaker’s four losses came earlier in his career, they show that he can be beaten. There is the possible question of home advantage with a noisy Melbourne crowd set to get behind their man but if the challenger Kelvin Gastelum is on top of his game, he has the capacity to upset the market.

He’s an inconsistent fighter so you may want to look at the alternative of the fight to go the distance. Both men show a good percentage of fights ending with a decision so there could be some value when that lands but for now, Gastelum to win is our one confirmed tip.

Best Bets for Gastelum v Whittaker: