With multiple interim belts on the line, UFC 236 promises to be one of the best cards of the year thus far. High-level fights can be found from top to bottom on this stacked main card, so without further adieu, here’s a peek at the stacked UFC 236 main card with two interim title fights on the line.
Light heavyweight division: Ovince Saint Preux (23-12) v. Nikita Krylov (24-6)
Ovince Saint Preux and Nikita Krylov kick off the main card. Saint Preux is coming off of a decision loss to Dominick Reyes at UFC 229 and has only won four of his last nine fights.
Krylov is fighting in his second UFC promoted fight after a debut loss to Jan Błachowicz via submission. Krylov is an exciting young prospect in the light heavyweight division and is a steal at most sportsbooks for (-115) odds.
Welterweight division : Alan Jouban (16-6) v. Dwight Grant (9-2)
Two top prospects face off in the welterweight division when Dwight Grant and Alan Jouban square up. Grant is an efficient striker with decent wrestling and is fighting out of the infamous AKA gym. Grant comes in at the slight (-110) favorite.
Light heavyweight division: Eryk Anders (11-3) v. Khalil Rountree (7-3)
Eryk Anders enters his bout with Khalil Rountree as the favorite. With odds of an Anders win currently at (-200), Anders will be looking for a win to stop his two-fight losing streak.
Bettors should take note of this fight, as Rountree is a hot underdog to consider betting on. Rountree has fought some of the best talents in the division and is capable of getting the job done against an average opponent on Friday. As a (+160) underdog, Rountree might be worth a wager.
Co-main event: Interim Middleweight Championship
Kelvin Gastelum (15-3) v. Israel Adesanya (16-0)
One of the two interim belts on the line this Saturday will be earned in the Co-main event as Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya fight for the interim middleweight belt. Many fight fans are most excited about the Co-main event for UFC 236, and for good reason. Rapidly rising star Israel Adesanya is back in action for his fifth fight in the last 365 days. Adesanya has a perfect MMA record of 16-0 and is coming off of a unanimous decision win over the legend Anderson Silva. “The Last Stylebender” is known for his technically clean striking, and has deep roots in kickboxing. Expect Adesanya to keep his distance and try to pick apart the shorter Kelvin Gastelum with his elite hands and kicks.
Adesanya’s opponent will be excited to get back in the octagon. Unlike Adesanya, Kelvin Gastelum has been very inactive as of late, with his last fight coming in May of last year. Gastelum was set to fight for the title just two months ago, but the Championship bout was canceled due to a long term injury suffered by Robert Whittaker. Gastelum has quite the fight record, going 15-3 against some of the best middleweight and welterweight opponents in his seven-year career. With his three losses coming against Neil Magny, Tyron Woodley, and Luke Rockhold, Gastelum has been through the wringer and will enter his UFC 236 fight with plenty of experience. In his last fight, Gastelum was able to win via decision after a back-and-forth battle against middleweight powerhouse Jacare Souza.
Surprising to some, Adesanya enters the contest as the (-175) betting favorite. Bettors should heavily consider picking Gastelum, as a (+145) betting line is great value for a fighter of his caliber. Gastelum has faced some of the best in the division and has found a way to get wins in a majority of these tough fights. This one really could go either way, but we’re taking Gastelum via knockout on Saturday.
Main Event: Interim Lightweight Championship
Max Holloway (20-3) v. Dustin Poirier (24-5)
The lightweight division is back in the spotlight on Saturday as Max Holloway, and Dustin Poirier meet for the second time in their careers. Poirier won the first contest, handing Holloway the first UFC loss of his career. This time, gold will be up for grabs as the interim lightweight belt has been thrown into the mix as a result of the six-month suspension of lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Max Holloway comes down from his featherweight division to make a run at the lightweights, and who can blame him? Holloway dominated at featherweight and is currently riding a 13 fight win streak. In his latest fight, Holloway emphatically defended his belt, piecing up second-ranked featherweight Brain Ortega in a four-round mauling that was stopped by the doctors. Holloway will depend heavily in his striking against Poirier, as many expect to see the most powerful version of Holloway after putting on the weight to make the division jump.
Seven years after his first victory over Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier looks to do it all over again. A lot can change in seven years, but Poirier has done nothing but continue to grow and develop as a fighter. With five “Fight of the Night” awards to his name, Poirier is no stranger to high-level fights. Poirier earned his shot at the interim belt by going undefeated in his last five fights, beating names like Anthony Pettis and Justin Gaethje during the streak. In his last fight, Poirier got the TKO victory over former lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez, pushing him into the top three of the lightweight division.
This incredible main event has “five round war” written all over it. With the heart and drive that these two show regularly, anything could happen in this five-round interim lightweight title fight. Poirier is the reasonably big underdog heading into the contest, with sportsbooks putting (+175) odds on a Poirier win. Holloway is the favorite at (-225) and will want to keep this fight on the feet. Bettors shouldn’t shy away from the underdog in this one. If Poirier can successfully implement some takedowns, he could end up dictating this fight. Poirier has proven to be a well-rounded fighter, and /s dangerous on the ground. With seven fights won via submission, including a triangle armbar against Holloway in their first fight, we think Poirier gets it done on the mat again with a 3rd round submission victory for the interim lightweight belt.