What a night of fighting UFC 236 played out to be. The much anticipated event lived up to the billing and featured the Fight of the Year to many. The fight card saw two UFC interim belts won and gave fans an insight into future path crossings.
Kelvin Gastelum v Israel Adesanya
It grew harder to believe that this bout was a co-main event the longer it drew on. Kelvin Gastelum has proved his striking power and footwork in the MW division, as has Israel Adesanya. However, there were still unanswered questions heading into the event about how Israel would react when in trouble, or taken down to the mat. Does he have the takedown defence? Does he have the heart in the Octagon to fight for the belt? Is their substance to the hype? All of these questions were answered after he faced adversity as early as Round 1, when Gastelum rocked him. Adesanya dug deep and looked rejuvenated in the fifth and final round, after a tough fought 4 rounds prior. He piled the pressure on and got the job done on the night, crowning himself with the interim MW belt. He is a truly special fighter and as Dana White said in the UFC 236 post-fight press conference, ''a star was born tonight.''
Max Holloway v Dustin Poirier II
On to the main event, Holloway v Poirier. The run up to this fight saw a confident Max Holloway against a determined Dustin Poirier. The ''Diamond'' was facing a possible 26th fight in the UFC without having a strap around his waist. The MMA community quickly saw the difference in striking power and size between the pair as Dustin seemingly stunned Holloway with each connecting strike. He implemented a strong game plan early, aiming high and targeting low with sweeping leg kicks. This opened the floodgates for a barrage of head strikes, leading to what seemed to be the road to a TKO. Holloway clawed his way back into the fight, tapping away and consistently pushing forward and applying the pressure. Both fighters left it all on the line. Respect was earned in that Octagon. Max Holloway demonstrated what was already known of him, that Hawaiian grit and unrelenting stamina. Poirier, on the other hand, showed his striking, impressive guard in stand up and determination to get the victory at UFC 236.
UFC 236 has concluded, but what are the take aways after the event?
Israel Adesanya is to fight Robert Whittaker for the Middleweight unification bout. This will be aimed at the Australian market, with Dana stating that he is looking for a stadium to host the event. The New Zealand native against an Australian champion. Kelvin Gastelum has earned the respect of many fans in the MMA world and although he was defeated, his stock has risen in the eyes of all. There may be a road ahead before another title shot, but the power in those hands prove to be a threat to all opponents on any given night.
Dustin Poirier will fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the unification of the LW belt. This is expected to take place in September according to both Khabib and Dana White. Max Holloway, despite being open to fighting anyone is most likely to move back down to his kingdom of 145. He will look to defend his belt in this division.