UFC 236 Squared Up: Adesanya vs Gastelum Co-Main Event Breakdown

Jason Paglia

Friday, April 12, 2019 8:30 AM UTC

Friday, Apr. 12, 2019 8:30 AM UTC

The eyes of the mixed martial arts world will be fixed on Atlanta, Georgia this Saturday night for UFC: 236 at the State Farm Arena

<p>The UFC has drawn harsh criticism in recent months for lackluster fight cards and subpar events but FINALLY, we have a fight card worthy of the world’s biggest MMA promotion. The thirteen fight card is stacked with a mix of journeymen, hopeful future contenders and four fighters near the very pinnacle of the sport. In the Main Event, Featherweight Champion Max Holloway attempts to become the 4<sup>th</sup> fighter in UFC history to become a two weight class champion simultaneously, when he takes on Dustin Poirier. In 2012 these two squared off for the first time at UFC: 143. Poirier scored a 1<sup>st</sup> round submission victory on that night but both fighters have improved exponentially since then.</p><p>In the Co-Main Event the interim middleweight championship is up for grabs when Kelvin Gastelum takes on Israel Adesanya. Earlier this year Gastelum was scheduled to fight current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 234 but Whittaker was forced to pull out due to an injury. Now Gastelum fights the “Stylebender”, Israel Adesanya. I have been telling anyone that would listen to me the last two years that Israel Adesanya is without a doubt a future champion. Saturday is Adesanya’s 6<sup>th</sup> fight in the UFC the last 14 months. On the surface that seems ridiculous but, when you consider he has barely been touched in five fights in the UFC you understand why. Both these fights are worth the price of admission alone, the rest of the fight card is just a bonus. Lets deep dive on the co-main event….</p><h2><strong>ISRAEL ADESANYA (16-0) vs KELVIN GASTELUM (15-3)</strong></h2><p style="text-align:center"><strong><img alt src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/IzC2ZWaI2pBlph7DztC0qP7DGe8=/0x0:5082x3474/1200x800/filters:focal(2318x428:3130x1240)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/63078599/usa_today_12138550.0.jpg" style="width:600px;height:400px" /></strong></p><h2><strong>Israel Adesanya:</strong></h2><p>Israel Adesanya comes into Saturday’s co-main event the #5 ranked Middleweight contender in the world. He has been a student of combat sports since 2011. He began his career as a kickboxer in 2011 where he amassed a 22-5 record until he exclusively became a mixed martial artist in 2017. While kickboxing he began his MMA career in March of 2012 and has been nothing short of spectacular since. He was 11-0 when the UFC came knocking and Adesanya answered the door emphatically. Since signing his UFC contract he’s gone 5-0 in the octagon in a span of twelve months and, Saturday he looks to keep the undefeated streak alive in the biggest fight of his career for a chance at the interim middleweight gold strap.</p><h2><strong>― STATS ―</strong></h2><p>•<strong>Method of Victory •Significant Strikes </strong>(per/min)<strong> •Takedowns </strong></p><p>▪13 wins by TKO ▪ 4.51 Landed ▪ 0% Accuracy</p><p>▪3 wins by Decision ▪ 2.08 Absorbed ▪ 80% Defended</p><p>▪0 win by Submission</p><h2><strong>― PROS ―</strong></h2><p>• <strong>Striking</strong> (Adesanya is a generational talent as a striker, think Anderson Silva 2.0.)</p><p>• <strong>Speed </strong>(Excellent hand / leg speed and quickly cuts angles in exchanges to stay at range/ Has epic muscle twitch reaction and his faints set up everything he does as both a pressure striker and more importantly his counter game.)</p><p>• <strong>Range/Size </strong>(Because Adesanya is a master striker , he already knows how to use his range perfectly because the distance between an opponent is everything when determining risk / reward but the god given advantage he has in most fights, especially this fight is size. He is 7 inches taller then Gastelum and has a 9 inch reach advantage. The advantage in that disparity is absurd. Even more so when someone is great at using it to their advantage. This factor can not be overstated in this fight.</p><h2><strong>― CONS ―</strong></h2><p>• <strong>Ground Game </strong>( It is nonexistent. Adesanya has not attempted a takedown in the UFC and this is his 6<sup>th</sup> fight. From everything I could find, his BJJ game is weak. More importantly we have no idea AT ALL, how Adesanya will react to being on his back against elite competition. Gastelum believes in his power striking game but he is not a dumb fighter, in fact his fight IQ is excellent, so he knows the best way to beat Adesanya is to get him to the ground. Adesanya has shown his takedown defense is strong. He has avoided takedowns 85% of the time in the UFC but If Gastelum can consistently take Israel down it could spell trouble for the last Stylebender.</p><p>• <strong>Chin </strong>(This isn’t necessarily a con, but we don’t know how he will react to getting tagged by someone with serious power. This is more of an unknown then a con but I thought it was worth mentioning because aside from Adesanya’s ground game, I can’t really find a hole in his game. He has cardio for days, and a solid fight IQ. The chin however is an unknown, especially against someone that has bricks in his gloves.</p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/1EHCUJHS2mCWjofgpd1_nzNK0cE=/0x0:3000x2001/1200x800/filters:focal(1393x438:1873x918)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/60257321/878954828.jpg.0.jpg" style="width:600px;height:400px" /></p><p> </p><h2><strong>Kelvin Gastelum:</strong></h2><p>Kelvin Gastelum comes into Saturday’s co-main event the #4 ranked Middleweight fighter in the world. He has come a long way since his debut on The Ultimate Fighter in January of 2013. Gastelum was thrown into the spotlight at a young age. At the age of 21 he became the youngest fighter in the history of the show to win the TUF contest and was crowned the Ultimate Fighter 17 Champion. He struggled early in his career with making weight. As a welterweight he missed weight and was fined on multiple occasions which led to him moving up a weight class to where he currently fights at Middleweight. Gastelum comes into Saturday’s fight off the biggest win in his career. He followed up a submission loss to Chris Weidman with back to back victories over Michael Bisbing and his last fight against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza</p><h2><strong>― STATS ―</strong></h2><p>•<strong>Method of Victory •Significant Strikes </strong>(per/min)<strong> •Takedowns </strong></p><p>▪6 wins by TKO ▪ 3.86 Landed ▪ 50% Accuracy</p><p>▪5 wins by Decision ▪ 2.87 Absorbed ▪ 62.9% Defended</p><p>▪4 win by Submission</p><h2><strong>― PROS ―</strong></h2><p>• <strong>Power </strong>(Kelvin Gastelum moved up a weight class and still has some of the best punching power in the division. Those hands should not be taken lightly. If he hits Adesanya square, we will see how good the “Last Stylebenders” chin really is...)</p><p>• <strong>Wrestling </strong>(He has an excellent, he does have some wrestling in his past. While he only gets his opponents to the ground 50% of the time, If he does manage to get you down he is really strong in the guard. He is capable of keeping people down on the ground.</p><p>• <strong>Versatility </strong>(Kelvin Gastelum is one of those Jack of all trades master of none type fighters. Initially I didn’t think so. I thought the strongest part of his game was his striking game. He moves well for a stocky guy and those hands are powerful and the combinations he is capable of putting together are impressive at times. Even still, Gastelum has spread it around with 6 knockout wins , 4 by submission and 5 that have gone to the judges’ cards. He is capable of winning multiple ways that makes him dangerous in any fight.</p><h2><strong>― CONS ―</strong></h2><p>•<strong> Pressure Puncher</strong>(Cons in one fight ,aren’t necessarily cons in another fight because styles make fights. That being said, ordinarily Gastelum getting off his exchanges first is probably a good thing, but here it’s not. Adesanya is so good at counter exchanges. When you consider the fact that Gastelum is already going to be reaching high to even touch Adesanya’s chin because of the height and reach advantage, he is going to leave himself open in spots this fight that he may not leave open in another fight. That will not bode well for Gastelum here.</p><p>• <strong>Takedown Defense </strong>(This will not hamper Gastelum this fight because if it is up to Adesanya they will be standing for the entirety of the fight. It is worth noting for future fights however that Gastelum lets way to many fighters get in on/under his hips. Weidman was able to get Gastelum down at will. Fighters that lull Gastelum to sleep get too close to him and takedowns are there for the taking, but this will not effect him on Saturday night. If anyone is on the ground Saturday it will be Adesanya if Gastelum can get him down.</p><p>• <strong>SIZE, SIZE &amp; SIZE</strong> ( In this fight Kelvin Gasteum will give up 7 INCHES OF HEIGHT and 9 INCHES OF REACH!!!</p><h2><strong>THE VERDICT</strong></h2><p><em>I respect the game of Kelvin Gastelum. I think he is well rounded nd if you aren’t capable he will rip the victory right from you and take it home. He has serious punching power, he can submit you or he can ground and pound you to stoppage. The sports book fight after fight makes Kelvin Gastelum the underdog and more often then not he proves the book wrong, so Gastelum is the definition of a live dog. At the end of the day I think Adesanya is a substantially better striker then Gastelum. If they were the same height and had the same range this fight would be a lot closer to even odds for me. The problem is , when you already have the better striker who has an excellent sense of range and then you add the fact that he is 7 inches taller and has almost an extra foot of reach, the show is over. Is Gastelum a solid striker? YES. Do I think he will be able to hurt Adesanya? NO. In order to hurt someone you have to be able to touch them. I think Gastelum will be swinging at air all night long. If Kelvin can get Adesanya to the ground this fight may start to favor Gastelum because we still don’t know how Adesanya will react on his back against elite level competition but Adesanya has stopped almost everyone from taking him down with an 85% takedown defense. I said two years ago this kid was a future champion and here we are with him on the precipice of his first championship. I sure as hell can’t back down now, especially when he is the better fighter. Lay it. </em></p><h2><em>Best Bet:</em></h2><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&amp;a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18" target="_blank" title="UFC Betting Odds"><em><strong>ISRAEL ADESANYA to win at 4/6 (1.57) with Bet365. </strong></em></a></p>
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