UFC 236 Preview: Kelvin Gastelum Vs. Israel Adesanya Prediction

UFC 236’s co-main event will see the first of two interim titles on the line as Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya face off in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the top attraction of the evening, Max Holloway will make his debut at 155lbs, stepping up to take on streaking contender Dustin Poirier in a fight that should establish one of them as the next challenger to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s throne.

If you want to read our official prediction for that fight, you can do so here.

Under different circumstances, we could well be living in a world where Kelvin Gastelum, and not Robert Whittaker, held the middleweight title.

Set to face off against The Reaper at UFC 234, a freak hernia sustained by the champ just hours out from the contest left Gastelum without an opponent and without his long-awaited shot at the 185lb strap.

Of course, these things happen and in the time since, he has been set up for an incredibly interesting showdown against the rising force that is Israel Adesanya in the UFC 236 co-main event.

Adesanya’s UFC run so far has been nothing short of astounding.

Fighting five times in the space of 364 days, his most recent win over the legendary former champion Anderson Silva may not have solidified him as a top contender in the eyes of most, but it was enough to garner him the attention necessary to be considered for this interim-title shot.

And believe me, it’s a highly-intriguing fight between two guys who deserve to be there based on the merits of their skillset.

Gastelum will give up a gargantuan seven inches of height and eight-and-a-half inches of reach to Adesanya although I have reason to suspect that he’ll come into this bout as the heavier man.

Speed will side with Israel while legitimate one-shot power will go with Kelvin.

But make no mistake, both guys are quick and each can take you out without warning.

We’ve got two fighters here who, while possessing very different styles and physiques, have both proven their ability to swing a fight’s momentum in an instant – whether that be due to sheer strength or dynamism.

As much as I found Holloway/Poirier to be a tough pick to make, I do think that this fight is a more difficult one to call.

But that doesn’t mean I think it’s going to be a close fight.

Where Holloway and Poirier are paired up in a way that could result in a tour-de-force in violence, the man who comes out on top between Adesanya and Gastelum will likely have a lot of success in doing so.

So which way will it go?

I think Israel’s impeccable footwork and distance management will see him through this one in the end.

It will all come down to who can get comfortable first but I do believe that Kelvin will struggle to close the distance early on – making this fight look exactly like what we would expect from a showdown where the disparity in height and reach is so big.

Sure, Kelvin has every chance to get his game going and win it, but I think Stylebender is far too cunning in there to drop the ball on this one.

Prediction: Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at cillian@punditarena.com.