Many were expecting a middleweight classic out of Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 and the two men did not disappoint. Fighting for the interim UFC Middleweight title, these two men would slug it out for five rounds with Adesanya scoring the victory via unanimous decision.
Gastelum was the underdog going into the fight but he surprised Adesanya in the first round. While “The Last Stylebender” tried to keep Kelvin on the edge of his reach, Gastelum kept getting in range and landing blows. He knocked Adesanya to the canvas with a powerful right.
Adesanya would step up his own tempo in the second round, sending Gastelum to the ground with a right of his own. He would also landed an excellent back elbow out of nowhere that clearly shocked Kelvin. Gastelum recovered nicely and attempted a take down, which Israel resisted.
The third round was all Adesanya, who seemed to figure out Gastelum’s offense. He exploited the fatigue that his opponent was showing and despite a double leg take down by Kelvin, Adesanya clearly won that round.
Moving into the fourth round, Gastelum’s corner indicated that the fight could be scored 2-1 for Adesanya and urged him to go on the offensive. He did just that and had Adesanya in the most trouble he’s been in throughout his career. He rocked Adesanya with a kick/jab combination that had Israel trying to escape and recover.
The final round saw both men attempting to score the win but Adesanya would control the last 4 minutes of the fight. He almost had his opponent submitted when he used his quickness and length to lock in a standing guillotine choke. Kelvin reversed and Adesanya then attempted to get a triangle lock clamped in while on his back but it wasn’t tight enough to submit his opponent.
Gastelum would get knocked down three times in the closing minutes of the match but continued to fight back and defend, refusing to go down without a fight. When the final bell rung, the crowd showed their appreciation giving both men a standing ovation for the stellar fight that they just witnessed.
All three judges scored the bout 48-46 with Israel Adesanya crowned the new interim UFC Middleweight champion. The UFC would hand out two Fight of the Night bonuses, with this match being named the first and the headliner between Dustin Poirer and Max Holloway receiving the second.
Adesanya improves to a perfect 17-0 and will now have to wait for current middleweight champ Robert Whittaker to recover to unify the title. With Gastelum’s gritty performance, he should be in line for a title shot as soon as the belts are unified.