UFC 236: Holloway, Adesanya Favored to Win Interim Champions
UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 is Saturday, April 13 with at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s the first UFC pay-per-view event to be distributed exclusively by ESPN+ in the United States, and the massive card features two hotly anticipated interim championship bouts.
The PPV is headlined by Max Holloway’s attempt to beat old rival Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title and Israel Adesanya trying to become interim middleweight champ versus Kelvin Gastelum.
UFC betting leaders such as 888Sport and SugarHouse in New Jersey like Holloway, -225, and Adesanya, -190, to come out the victors in important battles that will help define the future of the featherweight and middleweight divisions.
Can Holloway Avenge Porier Loss?
Holloway, 20-3, the reigning featherweight champion, takes on Poirer, 24-5, for the interim lightweight title in the main event. Since breaking into the UFC in 2012 via a short-notice submission loss to Poirier, the 27-year-old has improved greatly and solidified himself as the best featherweight in the sport.
Holloway enters the rematch riding an impressive 13-fight win streak that includes a pair of wins over former champion Jose Aldo. It’s no wonder that Holloway, -225, is favored to defeat Poirier, +180, the second time around despite making the jump up in weight from 145 to 155 pounds.
While Poirier submitted Holloway in the first meeting, that was before Holloway’s standup game and striking ability improved so dramatically. Moreover, Holloway’s takedown defense has also become top-notch.
Poirier, 30, has never won a title and will have to hope his time at the higher weight gives him an additional advantage in the second meeting. He’s 8-1 at 155 pounds with one no contest including three wins against Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez.
Beyond that, his hopes in pulling the upset lie mostly in his ability to take Holloway to the ground, something that will probably be harder to do this time around than it was seven years ago.
The winner of the bout is on track to face UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov when the Russian becomes eligible to return from his suspension. Nurmagomedov was suspended for his part of the cageside brawl that ensued after Nurmagomedov submitted Conor McGregor at UFC 229.
Will Adesanya Remain Undefeated?
Undefeated 185-pound sensation Adesanya, 16-0, faces Gastelum, 15-3, for the interim middleweight championship in the co-main event.
Adesanya, -190, is favored in the fight, but getting past as strong and powerful a fighter as Gastelum, +155, won’t be an easy task. The 27-year-old is a devastating and explosive striker, so Adesanya will have to be at the top of his game if he hopes to prove the bookmakers right.
Adesanya is coming off the biggest win of his career, a dominant victory at UFC 234 in February over elder UFC statesman Anderson Silva, who Adesanya sort of mimics in style and form. The 29-year-old has just over a year now in UFC experience but’s he’s already racked up five impressive wins and has built a solid following along the way.
Gastelum last fought inside the Octagon at UFC 224 in May 2018 when he defeated Ronaldo Souza by split-decision. He was next in line for reigning middleweight king Robert Whittaker, but the fight was canceled because Whitaker is currently recovering from a collapsed bowel and hernia.
Now, Gastelum is stuck trying to hand Adesanya the first loss of his career.