The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will emanate from State Farm Arena this Saturday with UFC 236. This event is the first UFC Pay-Per-View broadcast on ESPN+. There are five fights on the card and the co-main events consist of Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier II for the interim lightweight title. The other co-main event will be Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight title.
The winner of Holloway vs Poirier II will face Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is currently suspended because of the fallout from his fight with Conor McGregor in UFC 229.
“In this situation you need an interim title,” Poirier said to MMA Junkie. “It makes sense in the lightweight division. You’ve got the champ (Khabib Nurmagomedov) suspended until November or whenever he’s coming back. Especially such a top-heavy division, you’ve got the guy suspended for a while, so you introduce the interim belt and the winner fights him. (UFC President) Dana (White) told me the winner of this is going to fight Khabib.”
Meanwhile, Adesanya’s rise to the top of the middleweight division has been meteoric. In his five fights, Adesanya has won three fight-of-the-night awards. By comparison, Gastelum has beaten former champion Michael Bisping and former Strikeforce champion, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Likely, the winner of this fight will face current champion Robert Whittaker in a unification fight later this year. Whittaker was set to face Gastelum at UFC 234, but a collapsed bowel and a hernia forced him out of action.
”In my head, I was maybe six months off, but we’re here now and I’m not shying away from it because I’ve been a champion since I walked into the UFC,” Adesanya told the Sporting News when asked whether he’s ahead of his schedule.
It will be the first time a UFC event will be in Atlanta since UFC 201 when Tyron Woodley knocked out Robbie Lawler in round to become the UFC Welterweight Champion on July 30, 2015. Previously, Jon Jones beat Rashad Evans by unanimous decision at UFC 145 on April 21, 2012 to retain the light heavyweight championship.