The MMA community has just received answers on two of 2019’s early mysteries: what will happen next in the middleweight division and what will be a feature bout at UFC 236, and the answer is the same: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight championship as reported by ESPN moments ago.
After UFC 234, the UFC’s middleweight division was left in limbo after world champion Robert Whittaker was forced to withdraw from scheduled title fight against Kelvin Gastelum. Kelvin Gastelum was then left opponentless while Israel Adesanya went on to defeat his idol Anderson Silva in the impromptu main event for the card. That victory was originally supposed to create a clear #1 contender for the winner of the Gastelum/Whittaker bout, but with the original main event cancelled, Adesanya’s victory only created more questions than answers regarding how the Whittaker/Gastelum/Adesanya trio would play out.
At UFC 236, Kelvin Gastelum will now have an opportunity to walk around with a quasi-real belt should he defeat Israel Adesanya, and Israel Adesanya will have an opportunity to silence any critics regarding his place in the middleweight pecking order.
Kelvin Gastelum’s last fight was at UFC 224, with Gastelum pulling out a split-decision victory over Jacare Souza. That victory made it two straight for Gastelum as he also defeated former middleweight champion Michael Bisping prior to this. Israel Adesanya is currently undefeated with an impressive 16-0 record. His last three wins came over ranked opponents Brad Tavares in July of 2018 at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, Derek Brunson via TKO at UFC 230 last November, and Anderson Silva earlier this month at UFC 234.
No venue has been announced for UFC 236. The event takes place April 13, 2019.
Who do you think will walk away from UFC 236 as the middleweight interim champion? Israel Adesanya or Kelvin Gastelum?