WHAT A WAR… Israel Adesanya is the New Interim Middleweight Champion After a Classic Against Kelvin Gastelum…

Israel Adesanya answered all of his critics in Atlanta with a superb victory over Kelvin Gastelum to clinch the uFC interim middleweight championship. This was a fight for the ages that ultimately went to a unanimous decision.

Coming into this one ‘The Last Stylebender’ was seen by many to be a prodigious but unproven talent who had beaten mediocre or washed up talent on the way to this title fight. Against Kelvin Gastelum, he had to come back from adversity several times to win an absolute war.

Watch the clips below as these two warriors threw down with all of their hearts in what was a gloriously entertaining co-main event at UFC 236. Adesanya is the second Nigerian-born champion in UFC history after Kamaru Usman won the welterweight strap last month.

Back and forth

This fight truly went back-and-forth. Adesanya struggled to get the measure of Gastelum in the first round, who moved forward with power and intensity. This was a style of striking that Adesanya had never experienced before and he quickly gained respect for Gastelum’s KO potential, getting dropped by the American against the fence.

The second was a different story. Adesanya found his distance and was able to let loose with his hands and feet. The inside leg kick was a big part of this story. Gastelum’s gas tank has been questioned in the past so this was set up to slow him down even more.


Round three went much the same way. It was still back-and-forth with both men threatening each other with dangerous strikes. Gastelum’s one-punch power was on show, but Adesanya was outstriking him. The New Zealander got taken down at the end of the round but was straight back to his feet.

Maybe he got complacent but Adesanya quickly learnt this fight was not over as he faced the biggest test of his MMA career so far in round four. Gastelum was visibly fresher and pressed forward. It was relatively even until the end of the round when Gastelum smashed Adesanya and left him on wobbly legs.

If he pushed forward it’s highly likely he would have won the fight then and there, but instead, Gastelum shot for the takedown, a decision he’ll likely regret for the rest of his career. Adesanya was very lucky.

Interim champion

Round five was where ‘The Last Stylebender’ rallied and came back out to seal the victory. He unleashed a clinic on Gastelum who looked dead on his feet as the fight came towards its end. He almost even submitted his American opponent with a triangle on the ground, but couldn’t clinch it.

Then in the last minute, Adesanya found his rhythm and let loose with his sniper-like strikes. Gastelum was caught and it looked like the fight was going to be stopped with ten seconds left, but referee Marc Goddard chose not to intervene and let them go the distance.

Adesanya will now move forward to fight Robert Whittaker for the official middleweight title in Australia. The UFC couldn’t have planned it any better, as two Oceanian representatives will go to war.

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