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Kelvin Gastelum unconvinced by Israel Adesanya: He’s not been through the fire I’ve been through

Kelvin Gastelum is unconvinced by his opponent Israel Adesanya heading into UFC 236.

Top UFC middleweight Kelvin Gastelum is not convinced that his UFC 236 opponent Israel Adesanya has earned his shot at the interim middleweight title.

Gastelum and Adesanya will fight for the interim 185-pound strap in the co-main event of UFC 236 next weekend. A fight between current champion Robert Whittaker and Gastelum was supposed to take place at UFC 234 in February, but Whittaker pulled out on the day of the event and the fight was cancelled.

Talking to MMA Junkie earlier this week, Gastelum explained why he thinks Adesanya has had an easier path to the title in comparison to the former welterweight contender.

“I don’t think he’s been through the fire that I’ve been through,” Gastelum said. “Hasn’t fought the quality of opponents that I have.

“You know, obviously he’s fought some great fighters,” Gastelum said. “But the top five guys are, any one of those top five guys can be the champion, and I don’t think he’s fought those kind of guys.”

Since making his UFC debut in February 2018, Adesanya (16-0) has won five straight fights. The most recent being an impressive first-round stoppage victory against Derek Brunson late last year, and a decisive win against Anderson Silva at UFC 234. Gastelum feels he is at a disadvantage at 185 pounds due to his height, but he has turned that into an advantage for himself.

“I feel like my disadvantage, I’ve kind of learned to make my advantage,” Gastelum said. “My height, I’ve learned to get under guys real easy. I’ve learned how to do that and how to maintain my range despite my limited capabilities.

“Adesanya has only been in the organization a year, a year-and-a-half, something like that,” Gastelum said. “So I went back and watched the Derek Brunson fight and the Anderson Silva fight, and that’s it.”

UFC 236 takes place on April 13th at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The card will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier.