Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum will serve as the co-main event for this weekend’s UFC 236 event, which will air from the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. This will be Israel Adesanya’s first time serving as the co-headliner of a pay per view, and he will look to use the opportunity to cash in with an interim title fight and put the division on notice once again that there is a new big dog in the middleweight yard.
As for his opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, the former TUF winner just came off a pay per view co-main event victory at UFC 224 over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, which was enough to earn Gastelum an opportunity at a main event world title bout over Robert Whittaker. Unfortunately, Whittaker’s last-minute withdrawal from UFC 234 prevented Gastelum from partaking in that main event, but a victory over Israel Adesanya would give Gastelum an opportunity to try it again, this time with an interim title attached to his name. That victory would be added to wins over names like Michael Bisping, the aforementioned Jacare Souza, Vitor Belfort, Johny Hendricks, and others.
But despite Gastelum being the more established and experienced name, who is also ranked higher (#4) than anyone Adesanya has faced in the UFC date, the Nigerian does not consider the upcoming fight against Gastelum to rank #1 on the difficulty rankings:
“No, it’s not the hardest fight of my MMA career so far,” Adesanya said in a recent interview with EMG Access.
So whom would Adesanya give the award of #1 to? Anybody who follows Adesanya may already suspect the answer:
“I’d give that to the Silva fight,” Adesanya said. “I think more mentally challenging. It was physically challenging as well, but more mentally challenging in the sense that I had to beat myself.”
Do you believe Kelvin Gastelum is the most difficult matchup for Israel Adesanya to date?