UFC 236 is not a great card for MMA bettors. The prelims lineup is thin, actually I think we had better bouts on the last two free events. The main card is very good, especially the two title fights.
One of the two biggies on the card is the co-main event for the UFC interim middleweight title – #5 Israel Adesanya (16-0) against #4 Kelvin Gastelum (16-3-1).
Adesanya is 5-0 since his UFC debut just over a year ago, and his latest victory was a decision win over middleweight legend Anderson Silva.
Gastelum, who is two years older than his opponent, has taken on the best the division has to offer in recent years. He owns wins over Jacare Souza, Michael Bisping, Tim Kennedy, and Vitor Belfort (the latter was changed to a no-contest due to a positive test result for a metabolite of marijuana). Gastelum was set to challenge champion Robert Whittaker before he was hospitalized just days before their scheduled fight in February. Whittaker is on track to return in August, so the winner of this bout will likely face the champ in their next fight.
Adesanya has a huge reach advantage of 9 inches, which is very significant considering his style of fighting. Statistically, all at the numbers favor Adesanya, from strike percentage to submission attempts and nearly everything in between.
The thing is Kelvin’s entire career has been about defying the odds. Hell… he was even picked last on his TUF season, where he eventually triumphed by defeating Uriah Hall.
Adesanya’s reach advantage could neutralize Gastelum’s one-punch knockout power, but the veteran’s grappling ability will put the New Zealander to the test.
I like the hard road Gastelum has traveled to get here. We’ve seen him succeed in tough situations, which is a big contrast to Adesanya. Israel’s only “quality” win is against Derek Brunson.
Adesanya is a slight betting favorite (trending around -175 at most major sportsbooks), but it’s hard to pick against the fighter with more experience against top-level opponents, especially in a five-round contest.
THE PICK: Kelvin Gastelum (+155)
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