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UFC 236 fight card primer: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya

In the co-main event of UFC 236, Kelvin Gastelum will take on Israel Adesanya and the interim UFC middleweight title is on the line.

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Top middleweight contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya will compete for the chance at interim middleweight gold in the co-main event of UFC 236 this weekend. It will be both men’s first shot at a UFC title in their respective careers. UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 takes place this Saturday night, April 13th, in Atlanta, Georgia. The main card will show live on PPV through ESPN+ beginning with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT. The ESPN prelims will start at 8:00 p.m. ET, and 6:15 p.m. ET on Fight Pass.

How do these two stack up?

Gastelum: 27 years old | 5’9” | 71.5” reach
Adesanya: 29 years old | 6’4” | 80” reach

What have these two done recently?

Gastelum: W - Jacare Souza (DEC) | W - Michael Bisping (KO) | L - Chris Weidman (SUB)
Adesanya: W - Anderson Silva (DEC) | W - Derek Brunson (TKO) | W - Brad Tavares (DEC)

How did these two get here?

After coaching season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter with Robert Whittaker, Gastelum was hoping to eventually get his hands on the middleweight champion at UFC 234 in February. However a myriad of problems on fight day, including an abdominal hernia, meant Whittaker had to pull out of the fight, and annoyingly for Gastelum he will have to settle for interim gold at UFC 236 instead. The former welterweight contender is currently on a two-fight winning streak, following an impressive first round KO of Michael Bisping, Gastelum won a split decision against Ronaldo Souza in May of last year.

After Whittaker and Gastelum’s fight was scrapped at UFC 234, Adesanya’s fight with Anderson Silva unexpectedly headlined the card, and “The Last Stylebender” was victorious on the night winning a decisive unanimous decision. Adesanya has continued to improve in every fight he has in the UFC, his fight before Silva was a first-round knockout of the gritty Derek Brunson at UFC 230. His exceptional UFC form and undefeated status has meant Adesanya is a reasonable favourite heading into his title fight with Gastelum.

Why should you care?

On paper, it’s hard to see how Gastelum gets the win in this fight, due to his height and reach disadvantage, and Adesanya being the skilled striker he is. However, Gastelum’s impressive résumé evidences he is Adesanya’s toughest UFC opponent so far, meaning this should be an exciting showcase.

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