Robert Whittaker is expected to make his return to the Octagon at UFC 234 on Feb. 9 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from Melbourne, Australia, to defend his UFC middleweight championship against surging contender Kelvin Gastelum.
UFC president Dana White broke the news to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Friday.
Whittaker, 27, last fought at UFC 225 where he defeated Yoel Romero in a non-title fight rematch. The Australian champion will make his return to the cage on home soil for the first time since UFC Fight Night 101 back in 2016, in which Whittaker finished middleweight veteran Derek Brunson via first-round TKO. Another victory for Whittaker will extend his 185-pound record to an astounding 9-0.
Gastelum, also 27, is coming off back-to-back wins over former UFC champion Michael Bisping and Brazilian contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The former Ultimate Fighter winner has turned in some very impressive outings since his return to middleweight so it will be interesting to see how he pieces it all together in a championship fight. Having only been finished once in his career (a submission loss to Chris Weidman at UFC on FOX 25) Gastelum should be able to go tit-for-tat with Whittaker into the later rounds.
The main event middleweight title fight will also mark the culmination of Whittaker and Gastelum’s head coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter Season 28.
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