Israel Adesanya Beat Kelvin Gastelum To Win The UFC Interim Middleweight Title


Israel Adesanya (17-0) defeated Kelvin Gastelum (15-4) via decision thanks to a dominant fifth round to claim the interim Middleweight championship at UFC 236 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Gastelum caught Adesanya midway through the first round as he dipped to evade a right, and caught the “Last Stylebender” with a left hook that sent him stumbling. Adesanya recovered well, but Gastelum continued to find his range with heavy strikes. Adesanya opened the second round with consistent attacks to Gastelum’s body, sending Gastelum to the ground with a counter right hand and picking him apart with swift strikes late.

In the third, Adesanya picked up right where he left off with precise strikes. Gastelum struggled with Adesanya’s reach, leaping forward with wild punches. When Gastelum missed, he remained open for counter after counter. Gastelum got a huge takedown late in the round, but Adesanya had no issue getting back to his feet.

Gastelum rushed into the fourth with aggression, looking to end Adesanya’s night with rights and lefts. After a quick first minute, Adesanya set the pace back to his liking, slowing things to a methodical pace. Late in the round, Gastelum hurt Adesanya with a big head kick, but couldn’t put him away, instead going for a takedown.

With the fight essentially tied at two rounds a piece, Gastelum opened with heavy pressure yet again, going high and low with punches and kicks. Adesanya tried to lock in a standing guillotine, then a triangle choke on the ground, but Gastelum slipped out. Adesanya continued picking Gastelum apart with snapping jabs and heavy right hands, then sent him to the mat yet again with a big right hand.

However, Gastelum escaped a finish. Adesanya had him on the ropes in the final 20 seconds, but Gastelum was able to send the fight to the judges.

Gastelum was scheduled to fight Robert Whittaker UFC 234 before he was unexpected pulled from the card the afternoon of the event to undergo an emergency surgery for an abdominal hernia and collapsed bowel. Gastelum won consecutive fights before his scheduled title fight against Adesanya, knocking out Michael Bisping and earning a decision victory over Ronaldo Souza. He entered Saturday night’s bout on a nine-fight win streak, and hadn’t lost since a knockout loss to Stephen Thompson in February 2014.

Adesanya previously stepped into the main event of UFC 234, where he outclassed MMA legend Anderson Silva to a decision victory and easily the biggest win of his career. Adesanya entered Saturday night unbeaten in his career, rattling off five consecutive wins in the UFC in under one year. Adesanya will eventually square off with Whittaker for the middleweight crown.