Two interim title fights will headline UFC 236, which will take place at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Sunday, April 13. The main event will see Max Holloway take on Dustin Poirier for the interim Lightweight Championship. The penultimate fight of the card will be for the interim Middleweight Championship between Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya. The rest of the card has some very interesting fights that are expected to be very keenly fought.
Interim Lightweight Championship
Max Holloway comes into this fight with an impressive career record of 20 wins from 23 bouts, 10 of which have been by way of knock-out. In December 2016 he won the interim UFC Featherweight Championship against Anthony Pettis. His next bout in June 2017 saw him unify the Featherweight Championship with a victory over Jose Aldo. He has since defended the title twice, first against Jose Aldo and then in his last bout, against Brian Ortega.
Dustin Poirier is also an experienced fighter, having won 24 of his 30 MMA fights, with 12 wins by way of knock-out and 7 by submission. This is his first title fight, an opportunity he earnt after winning his last 4 bouts, with the last two by TKO via his impressive striking. He beat Justin Gaethje early in the 4th round and then Eddie Alvarez in Round 2 of their rematch.
Prediction: This will be the second time these two have met, the first being back in 2012 when Poirier won via submission late in the first round. Both competitors are impressive strikers and have reasonably similar styles, which will make for an enthralling contest. Poirier has a 3 inch advantage in arm reach, however Holloway has a slightly better leg reach. Poirier is also capable with submission moves which makes him a threat on the ground, but Holloway’s reliable striking is hard to ignore. Holloway to win on decision.
Interim Middleweight Championship
American Kelvin Gastelum comes into this bout on the back of split decision win against Ronaldo Souza at UFC 224 last May. Previous to that he had a dominant Round 1 KO victory over Michael Bisping. He’s a well-rounded fighter, possessing good striking power, sound submission skills and the stamina to go the distance. This is his first title bout.
Israel Adesanya is an exciting fighter, coming into this bout with an impressive MMA record, having won all of his 16 bouts thus far, 13 of which have been via knock-out. He comes into the UFC after a successful kickboxing career, which shows given most of his UFC victories have come via KO thanks to striking.
Prediction: While Gastelum looks to be more capable in more aspects of MMA, the striking effectiveness and power of Adesanya just simply cannot be ignored. Adesanya has a significant height, arm and leg reach advantage, and given his striking power, it’s hard to see how he can be beaten. Adesanya by TKO in the 3rd Round.
Saint Preux is an experienced MMA fighter, with 35 fights to his name, scoring 23 wins. His versatility is shown by the fact he’s won 11 by knock-out, 7 by submission and 5 by points decision. His last fight went the distance where he lost by decision against Dominick Reyes at UFC 229 last October.
Nikita Krylov is also quite experienced, having fought in 30 bouts, however he’s 9 years younger than his opponent. Krylov has lost just 6 of those fights, and like his opponent, he’s shown his capability as a striker, with 10 wins by KO while he was won 14 by submission.
Prediction: This is set to be the tightest contest on the card, with little separating the two. Saint Preux has a 2.5 inch arm reach advantage, while the leg reach for both is very identical, however the superior ground skills of Krylov could be the deciding factor. Krylov by submission.
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