The first PPV event of 2019 seems to be flying under the radar despite having some important middleweight implications. UFC 234 is set to commence from Melbourne, Australia on Sunday morning with champion Robert Whittaker taking on Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya taking on Anderson Silva in the co-main event.

Whittaker, coming off a huge win over Yoel Romero last June, delayed his return to the Octagon while battling nagging injuries and gets his chance to headline in his home country for the first time as champion. Gastelum, meanwhile, is coming off a split decision win over Jacare Souza that shot him up into this opportunity. 

But the co-main event seems to be where more attention is at this point with Adesanya seemingly getting the next shot at the champion with a win over the man he modeled his game and fighting style after. The former kickboxing champion has run through opponents since joining UFC, scoring a destructive TKO win over Derek Brunson in November, as well as decisions over Brad Tavares and Mario Vettori. 

Let’s take a look at the complete fight card from Melbourne with the latest odds from Bovada.

UFC 234 fight card, odds

Favorite Underdog Weightclass

Robert Whittaker (c) -240

Kelvin Gastelum +190

UFC middleweight title

Israel Adesanya -650

Anderson Silva +425

Middleweight

Ricky Simon -125

Rani Yahya -105

Bantamweight

Montana De La Rosa -260

Nadia Kassem +200

Women’s flyweight

Jimmy Crute -140

Sam Alvey +110

Light heavyweight

Devonte Smith -260

Dong Hyung Ma +200

Lightweight

Shane Young -305

Austin Arnett +235

Featherweight

Kai Kara France -305

Raulian Paiva +235

Flyweight

Kyung Ho Kang -400 Teruto Ishihara +300 Bantamweight
Lando Vannata -365 Marcos Rosa +275 Light heavyweight
Jalin Turner -260 Callan Potter +200 Lightweight
Jonathan Martinez -170 Wuliji Buren +140 Bantamweight

With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking each of the main card fights. Here are your pick makers: Brian Campbell (combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Michael Mormile (producer), Jack Crosby (editor) and Brandon Wise (editor). 

UFC 234 predictions        

Fight Campbell Mormile Coca Crosby Wise
Whittaker (c) vs. Gastelum Whittaker Whittaker Whittaker Whittaker Whittaker
Adesanya vs. Silva Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya
Simon vs. Yahya Yahya Yahya Yahya Simon Yahya
De La Rosa vs. Kassem De La Rosa De La Rosa Kassem De La Rosa De La Rosa
Crute vs. Alvey Alvey Crute Crute Alvey Crute
Overall (2018) 33-36-0 42-27-0 37-32-0 34-35-0 41-28-0

Campbell on why Whittaker will win: Despite the physical toll of having fought 10 full rounds against Yoel Romero in his last two fights, Whittaker enters UFC 234 as the most well-rounded and battle-tested middleweight in the UFC. There’s an unflappable nature to Whittaker that makes it difficult imagining him losing to an opponent who isn’t next-level dynamic. While Gastelum is certainly a live underdog due to the power in his left hand, Whittaker’s speed and poise will be too much to handle fighting in his home country.

Wise on why Adesanya will win: It almost seems to be set up too perfectly. ‘The Last Stylebender’ has everything is his favor heading into a co-main event against the former champion now at 43 years old. If there is a concern, it’s that his flash and arrogance may not do him any favors against somebody he has modeled his style after in that Silva may know the precise moments to land his counter shots. But in a spot like this, tailor-made for his next-in-line status to be solidified, picking against Adesanya seems like a fool’s errand. The younger, more athletic fighter will prove to be too much for the aging veteran, who is 1-4, 1 NC since 2013. Adesanya via TKO1.

Who wins Whittaker vs. Gastelum and Silva vs. Adesenya? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed UFC 234 picks for every bout, all from the sizzling expert who’s up nearly $18,000 on MMA in the last nine months alone.

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