The UFC’s anticipated middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum finally has a location.
According to ESPN, UFC President Dana White confirmed that Whittaker will face top contender Kelvin Gastelum in his adopted home of Australia. White was asked if the promotion had a set event for Whittaker vs. Gastelum. He confirmed they did and would announce it ‘when it’s time.’ He also clarified it would be in Australia:
“We do. We’ll announce that when it’s time. It’ll be in Australia.”
It’s a second chance for Whittaker to defend his 185-pound title in Australia. He was born in New Zealand but fights out of Sydney. ”The Reaper’ was set to defend his title against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in Perth this February. Unfortunately, a series of serious injuries forced him off the card.
There, Yoel Romero, the only opponents Whittaker has faced and defeated in his two UFC title fights, knocked out Rockhold in a non-title affair for him. Whittaker has been able to outlast Romero in two all-out wars with “The Soldier of God,” but he’s paid the price for them. The champion has been forced to the sidelines with various procedures following both brutal bouts.
He’s since been recovering as he coaches The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28 opposite Gastelum. No official date has been confirmed for the fight, but sources told ESPN the UFC was targeting February 10 (February 9 in the Western Hemisphere) in Melbourne, Australia.
White also said alternates for the fight would be on hand due to the several last-minute changes the UFC has had with title fights this year:
“Yeah, we need alternates for things like that. You know the crazy stuff that goes on around here.”