Astounding Adesanya

The New Middleweight Champion Rose to the Occasion at UFC 236

Marcus Roberts, Head Writer

Israel Adesanya is no longer the most promising fighter in the worldhe is one of the best fighters in the world. Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum, the #4 ranked fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), on Saturday to gain the Middleweight title. The fight lasted all five rounds, a total of 25 minutes.  

Nicknamed “The Last Stylebender,” Israel started the fight playing defense to Gastelum. He seemed very calm and took his time measuring the distance between the two fighters. Even though the fighters weighed the same, Adesanya had a 5-inch height advantage and a 9-inch reach advantage. Despite the unusually significant size advantage, Gastelum was by far the aggressor in the first round; he knew he could not win the fight from a distance, so he got very close and made it uncomfortable for Adesanya to measure his range.  

In round 2, Adesanya was more aware to the hard-hitting offensive style that Gastelum had on display. As Gastelum would attempt to close the distance, Adesanya threw jabs and kicks to the body in order to tire his opponentHowever, Gastelum is known for his incredible cardio, and targeted Adesanya’s head with heavy and frequent hooks. Adesanya hesitated, and a few shots landed on his chin. Just when it looked like Gastelum was about to finish the Nigerian fighter, he was knocked down via straight right hook.  

The following round seemed like more of the same from the two fighters. Adesanya’s straight shots would only hold off Gastelum for about a minute, as Gastelum would circle back to him. At this point in the fight, shots from Gastelum were landing more and more frequently. The consistent flurry of punches threw off Adesanya’s mindset when Gastelum faked high and went low. Takedown defense is a great part of Stylebender’s game, but he was too caught off guard by the 27-year-olds takedown instinct. Adesanya has yet to prove he can be a great fighter on the ground in the octagon, but is only because he is so good at escaping the grasp of the opponent that no one can submit him. He easily evaded a guard transmission from Gastelum and rose back to his feet.  

Round 4, Gastelum seemed to show early stages of fatigue. His counter punches couldn’t reach the elusive Adesanya. The San Jose-born Gastelum never quit advancing though, even after eating multiple straight shots from Adesanya.  

In the fifth and final round of the UFC 236 co-main event, the Atlanta crowd was on its feet to see which fighter would win the back-and-forth match. Gastelum was now exhausted, and Adesanya took over. Gastelum attempted a takedown towards the middle of the round, but Adesanya defended and locked him in a guillotine choke. That didn’t work, and neither did the subsequent triangle submission enacted by Adesanya. In the last minute, Adesanya had Gastelum just trying to survive. He landed multiple punches that put Gastelum on the canvas. Just as broadcast announcer Joe Rogan was predicting Gastelum was no longer able to defend himself and that the fight should be finished, Gastelum was saved by the bell and the fight went to the judges scorecards. 

After unanimous decision, Adesanya was declared the victor by the margin of the very last round. The finish by the young New Zealand/Nigeria-based fighter proved that he can withstand a 5roundfight and is deserving of the middleweight title.  

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