Setting up the Future

ufc-236UFC 236 featured two interim title fights for weight classes hoping to see their champions make returns sooner rather than later.

In both of these title fights the matchups were similar as much-hyped fighters were looking to solidify their spot in their divisions against fighters that often don’t get a second thought.

Although the roles were very different for both fights with one seeing an established fighter take on the new star and another a new star taking on a veteran the storyline remained the same.

In the middleweight division, Robert Whittaker suffered a hernia a few months ago forcing him out of this title fight and leaving a gap at the top.

It also left Kelvin Gastelum without a title shot that he had been working towards for years since becoming the youngest Ultimate Fighter winner.

Gastelum is far from the flashiest UFC fighters and often he is overlooked when talking about the top contenders in the division.

Yet he has beat some of the best fighters in the UFC including Michael Bisping and Ronaldo Souza which helped him get to the title shot.

He isn’t necessarily the first choice for the UFC to be a title holder but his all-around skills have put him right in the hunt as he was about to take on Whittaker for the title.

Without a fight, he was left to defend his top contender spot in the division and that opportunity came against one of the most exciting stars in the UFC.

Israel Adesanya is the picture of flashy with an awkward and exciting style that has people excited about what he can do in the UFC.

After beating the legend Anderson Silva in his last fight with an extremely impressive showing he was tagged for a title run.

Gastelum was playing the role of the veteran who isn’t necessarily the person everyone thinks of when they think about the future of the division.

He took on Adesanya who was playing the role of that young star who seems like he is primed to take over the division and start a special run.

It didn’t look to be in the cards for Adesanya as he ate a few big left hands from Gastelum that looked like they were going to end the fight.

From the start, Adesanya was hurt and the biggest question was going to be how he handled adversity for the first time.

He handled it perfectly responding in the second with his own striking flurry and that is how the fight continued.

Gastelum continued to stand up with the kickboxer and got plenty through but ate a lot of shots himself.

In the end, it was a close all-out brawl and Adesanya did just enough to get the win and take home the belt.

Now he takes his shot in a meteoric rise as he has a date with middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker in what promises to be an interesting fight.

In the main event, the same type of story was set to play out as a future star on the edge of something special took on a veteran who somewhat unexpectedly rose to the top.

Dustin Poirier has been through plenty in his UFC career but he always seemed like he was going to be one of those fighters who was remembered as good but never great.

He always brought excitement to every fight but was never consistent enough to be a real title contender.mma-sidebar.fw

That was until he quietly began building a winning streak against some tough fighters in 2017.

After winning four fights including victories over Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez the man who was set to be a middling fighter looked like he was right there.

His first real chance at that gold was going to come against a young fighter trying to solidify his spot among the greatest of all time.

Max Holloway is far from an up and comer as the featherweight champion is already considered one of the best fighters on the roster.

At UFC 236 he was going to take that next step towards combat sports immortality by moving into the lightweight division.

He brought his unique style to an interim title fight where he was going to take on Poirier in a rematch of his UFC debut.

Winning the interim belt would put him in line for a title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov after the Russian’s suspension ends later this year.

To win a second belt would ensure that he was mentioned among the greatest to do it and at only 27 there is time for him to move up that list.

The entire fight was a display of power against volume as Poirier brought plenty of powerful shots while Holloway just brought a scary pace.

Throughout the fight, both fighters went back and forth with Poirier trying to land that big shot and Holloway looking to wear Poirier down.

The judges determined that the damage done to Holloway was the difference and Poirier took home the interim title.

Now his extended life in the UFC continues with a fight against Nurmagomedov as the next in line for the lightweight belt.

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