Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum are being targeted for the main event of UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia early next year, according to a new report from ESPN.
Currently seen coaching opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter 28, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and former TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum appear to finally have a date. Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC President Dana White let slip heading into the weekend that the promotion has a date, and that the pair would face off in Australia. While White refused to divulge the date, ESPN later reported that UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia was being targeted.
The event is expected to take place on February 10, 2019.
Whittaker (20-4), himself a former Ultimate Fighter winner, won the interim 185lb title in the UFC at UFC 217 in July 2017. Defeating Yoel Romero, ‘The Reaper’ was later tied to a fight with Luke Rockhold in Perth, Australia at UFC 221. However, injury saw Whittaker drop off the card, and as luck would have it, it was Romero who stepped up to fight Rockhold on short notice. Rockhold won the bout, but would later miss weight for a shot at Whittaker’s middleweight title, which by then had been promoted to the undisputed championship after Georges St. Pierre vacated the title he won from Michael Bisping.
With the game of musical belts at middleweight over, Whittaker defeated Romero for the second time at UFC 225 this past June. That led to the coaching opportunity against Gastelum, with the idea being that the two eventually face off for the title.
Kelvin Gastelum (15-3, 1NC) has won two straight, having defeated both ex-champ Michael Bisping and top contender Jacare Souza. Prior to that, he suffered a loss to former champion Chris Weidman, but with Weidman unable to stay active in the division, Gastelum managed to string together enough wins to get the nod for the title shot.
No other bouts have been announced for the UFC 234 card, nor has the UFC officially confirmed the date or main event. That, however, is expected to happen soon as the promotion slowly unveils its schedule for the first quarter of 2019.