UFC 236: Poirier, Adesanya Claim Interim Titles

In two of the most entertaining UFC headline bouts thus far in 2019, Dustin Poirier and Kelvin Gastelum each claimed an interim UFC championship, with Poirier defeating featherweight champ Max Holloway for the interim lightweight title and Adesanya defeating Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight gold.

Poirier got off some leg kicks to start the fight until Holloway landed a couple of combinations. But Poirier fired back with early heavy leather, staggering Holloway and troubling him throughout the first to the point the fight could’ve been stopped. After that domination, Holloway fought back by mixing up shots and working Poirier’s body, but “The Diamond” tagged Holloway late and took control again, causing a cut and swelling around Holloway’s right eye.

Holloway was back in it in the third, rocking Poirier and stuffing his takedown attempts, even getting some in sharp elbows. Holloway was also in control in the fourth until his momentum was halted by a knee in the clinch from Poirier that busted his face open. Holloway attempted a D’Arce choke but ultimately couldn’t get it before the horn. The pace slowed in a quiet fifth, but both men still got their shots in until the final horn.

The judges awarded Poirier the bout and title, all scoring the fight 49-46, giving Poirier a unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov expected later this year.

Gastelum was quiet to start and didn’t apply pressure right away, but he managed to trouble Adesanya early on in the first round of their bout, as Adesanya looked to find his range. Gastelum got Adesanya’s back to the cage in the second, but “The Last Stylebender” responded by dropping Gastelum with a combination. Gastelum managed to find his footing and land a hard one on Adesanya’s button late in the round, as the two traded to the horn.

Adesanya continued to hurt Gastelum early in the third, thanks to a knee in the clinch and several shots to the body. Gastelum boxed away and threw several hard shots, but while his power was still there, he looked to be tiring out already. Gastelum managed to recover after scoring a takedown on Adesanya, but Adesanya still appeared in control.

The theme of a strong start from Gastelum before Adesanya takes the round over continued in the fourth, but Gastelum landed a big head kick that stunned Adesanya. Gastelum, however, then chose to take down his opponent — a move that could have cost him the fight. The final round was complete madness, as both men traded punches back-and-forth until the horn, with the Atlanta crowd on their feet by the fight’s end.

All three judges scored the bout in Adesanya’s favor, 48-46. This guarantees Adesanya a unification bout against Robert Whittaker, expected later this year.

UFC 236 Main Card (10 p.m., ESPN+ PPV):
For the interim UFC lightweight championship: Dustin Poirier def. (featherweight champion) Max Holloway via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
For the interim UFC middleweight championship: Israel Adesanya def. Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46)
Light Heavyweight: Khalil Rountree Jr. def. Eryk Anders via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Welterweight: Dwight Grant def. Alan Jouban via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Light Heavyweight: Nikita Krylov def. Ovince Saint Preux via submission (rear-naked choke) (Rd. 2, 2:30)

UFC 236 Preliminary Card (8 p.m., ESPN):
Lightweight: Matt Frevola def. Jalin Turner via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Flyweight: Alexandre Pantoja def. Wilson Reis via TKO (Rd. 1, 2:58)
Welterweight: Max Griffin def. Zelim Imadaev via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
Bantamweight: Khalid Taha def. Boston Salmon via TKO (Rd. 1, 0:25)

UFC 236 Early Prelim Card (6:15 p.m., ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass):
Welterweight: Belal Muhammad def. Curtis Millender via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-26)
Bantamweight: Montel Jackson def. Andre Soukhamthath via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
Women’s Flyweight: Poliana Botelho def. Lauren Mueller via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28,  29-28)
Bantamweight: Brandon Davis def. Randy Costa via submission (rear-naked choke) (Rd. 2, 1:12)

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