Many people are questioning if Israel Adesanya is being rushed to the top too soon and whether he has truly earned the right to be facing Kelvin Gastelum in the interim middleweight championship about at UFC 236. And while Kelvin Gastelum stopped short of explicitly saying that Adesanya has not earned his spot, he certainly expressed his doubts:
“I don’t think he’s been through the fire that I’ve been through,” Gastelum told MMA Junkie in a recent interview. “Hasn’t fought the quality of opponents that I have.”
Israel Adesanya is currently 16-0 in MMA and 5-0 in the UFC. He does have three victories over ranked opponnets: Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, and the consensus greatest middleweight of all time Anderson Silva, but Kelvin Gastelum argues that while those fighters were great, they were not enough of a measuring stick to determine if Adesanya is ready for a title shot:
“You know, obviously he’s 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.”
Kelvin Gastelum’s path to a title shot began with a victory over Tim Kennedy at UFC 206 followed by a TKO victory over Victor Belfort, which was later overturned to a no contest after Gastelum tested positive for a marijuana metabolite. After losing to Chris Weidman, Gastelum would then defeat two top -five middleweights in Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza. On the contrary, when Gastelum went to study tape on Adesanya, he believes there were only fights worth studying:
“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.”
Do you believe Israel Adesanya is deserving of this interim title fight against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236?