UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker may finally get the chance to defend his title, as he is slated to fight Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 in Australia.
Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Friday that the promotion is targeting February 9th as the date for the pay-per-view, which will take place in Melbourne. The UFC last visited Melbourne in 2016 when Whittaker headlined a Fight Night event against Derek Brunson.
Whittaker and Gastelum recently coached against each other on The Ultimate Fighter: Season 28. White also stated that former 185-pound champion Chris Weidman, who is set to fight Ronaldo Souza this Saturday at UFC 230, is being thought as an alternate for the title fight, on the condition that he gets his hand raised against Jacare.
Whittaker (20-4) last fought at UFC 225 in June when he picked up his second decision win against Yoel Romero. In what was a Fight of the Year contender, Whittaker did not actually defend his title on the night, as Romero missed weight. “The Reaper” is undefeated since moving up to middleweight, and is currently on a nine-fight winning streak in the UFC.
Much like his opponent, Gastelum (15-3, 1NC) has looked like a rejuvenated fighter since moving up to 185-pounds. With weight cut worries out the window, the 27-year-old has recently picked up big wins against Souza and former champion Michael Bisping, knocking out the Brit in the first round. His only loss at 185 was to Weidman in July 2017.
No other fights or a venue has yet been set for the UFC 234 card.