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Middleweight Interim-Champ Crowned at UFC 236
UFC 236 in Atlanta had a lot of hype going into the event. For good reason too. When you have a current Featherweight Champ taking on a top lightweight contender in Dustin Poirier for the Interim Lightweight Championship as well as the UFC’s newest star Israel Adesanya fighting Kelvin Gastelum for the Interim Middleweight Championship Expectations will be set HIGH.
To make a long story short, the event lived up to its hype and then some. As the night unfolded it was easy to tell it was going to be a BIG night for the UFC. Two divisions had their next chapter written, and ultimately set great matchups for the UFC in the future. Two Interim Champs were crowned, as the current champs were on the outside looking in.
Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum kicked off the co-main event. As the fight tore on and both athletes had immense bright spots where it looked as though the fight would end before the 5th rd. Both athletes battled back from the brink of having their dreams slip away.
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Going into the fight many predictions edged in favor of Adesanya who was riding an undefeated UFC record, and coming off of an instant classic with Middleweight GOAT Anderson Silva. Gastelum quickly answered the question whether or not he belonged in the octagon with Israel. Gastelum made good use of his power, rocking Israel several times in the opening rounds. Gastelum looked as though he would be the first UFC athlete to crack the code of a man who looked plugged into the matrix.
In true Champ fashion though, Adesanya showed zero quit. Utilizing good range and distance management he was able to survive the early onslaughts to put on a 5th round performance that won’t be soon forgotten. Going into the 5th rd many pundits had their scorecards at 2-2. The winner of the 5th rd would end up with their hand raised.
Adesanya was able to use his second-to-none striking to almost finish the fight. Izzy was also able to display some underrated grappling tools in the form of a front headlock to guillotine combo that looked VERY tight. As the fight ended the arena was on its feet. Adesanya earned himself a unanimous decision and a shot at current Middleweight Champ Robert Whittaker. Here you can see a post-fight interview from ESPNMMA’s YouTube channel. Check the New Champ out!!
It’s hard to imagine a world where the stock of Kelvin Gastelum drops. Gastelum, who had his chances with current champ Whittaker pulled away in a cruel twist of fate, demonstrated his worth. He is in the upper echelon of the division and any matchup with a top 5 in the division would be sure fireworks.
Mastering the front headlock is a MUST. Whether you are battling in MMA or Jiu-Jitsu being able to control your opponent’s head will lead to many opportunities to finish the fight! Thankfully, John Danaher has a masterclass in the Front Headlock System!