We knew that the next middleweight title fight would see the champion Robert Whittaker defending against Kelvin Gastelum, we just didn’t know when.
That is no longer the case as ESPN has confirmed with UFC president Dana White that the middleweight title will be on the line at UFC 234 on Whittaker’s home turf in Melbourne, Australia. The event is expected to take place on February 9.
Along with the news of the fight’s location and date, White also said that if Chris Weidman can win tomorrow night against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 230 and come out relatively unscathed, that he could be the alternate for the title bout if needed.
Both Whittaker and Gastelum are past winners of The Ultimate Fighter. Gastelum on season 17 and Whittaker on The Smashes.
For the champion Whittaker, this will be his first official title defense after winning the interim crown in July 2017 when he defeated Yoel Romero by unanimous decision. Whittaker would be promoted to undisputed champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the title in December 2017.
Whittaker has indeed fought since then and he did so in his June rematch with Romero at UFC 225 in Chicago, Illinois. The fight was supposed to be for the title but due to Romero missing weight, it was turned into a non-title affair. Whittaker would once again walk away with the victory this time by split decision in an instant classic.
Gastelum’s last fight came in May when he defeated the previously mentioned Jacare in Brazil by split decision in the fight of the night. In his fight prior to that, he earned a massive knockout first round victory over the former champion Michael Bisping.
This fight will be Gastelum’s first time fighting for UFC gold.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/2/2018