UFC 236: Gastelum unsure Adesanya deserves title fight

Kelvin Gastelum (15-3-0 1 NC) is due to face Israel Adesanya (16-0-0) for the interim Middleweight championship at UFC 236. Ahead of their fight, Gastelum spoke about opponent Adesanya’s career so far.

Gastelum and Adesanya face off for the interim middleweight championship at UFC 236. Image: UFC

Gastelum was due to face current middleweight champ Robert Whittaker in a title fight at UFC 234, before Whittaker had to withdraw due to serious injury. On that same card, Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya faced MMA legend Anderson Silva, getting the win by decision.

Despite this win extending Adesanya’s record in the UFC to 5-0 within 12 months of his debut, Gastelum is unconvinced he has done enough to warrant a title fight.

Israel Adesanya clocks Anderson Silva with a left at UFC 234, Melbourne, Australia, Feb 10 2019. Image: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Speaking to MMA Junkie, Gastelum said; “I don’t think he’s been through the fire that I’ve been through. He hasn’t fought the quality of opponents that I have.”

The quality of opposition Gastelum has fought is high-calibre. He beat British former UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping in The Count’s final fight. In his last fight, Gastelum beat Jacare Souza, who is being touted for a title shot in the near future. He has also suffered defeats to Chris Weidman, Neil Magny and Tyron Woodley in recent years.

Gastelum beat Jacare Souza by split decision at UFC 224 in May 2018. Image: UFC

Despite going 5-3-0 (1 NC, he tested positive for marijuana after a victory over now-ONE Championship fighter Vitor Belfort) in his last 9 fights, Gastelum still feels he has a favourable record to Adesanya. He feels he has earned his shot.

“You know, obviously he fought some great fighters,” Gastelum said. “But the top five guys are, any one of those top five guys can be the champion, and I don’t think he’s fought those kind of guys.

In fact, Gastelum worries about Adesanya so little, he only watched two of The Last Stylebender’s previous fights in preparation.

“Adesanya has only been in the organization a year, a year-and-a-half, something like that,” Gastelum said. “So I went back and watched the Derek Brunson fight and the Anderson Silva fight, and that’s it.”

Gastelum v Adesanya is a co-main event along with Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier’s fight for the interim lightweight title. Image: UFC

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