In the meantime
UFC must not be bullish on Robert Whittaker’s ability to return from a hernia surgery that kept him out of UFC 234 earlier this month. Either that or they really needed a main event for UFC 236 as Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will be making a quick turnaround and fighting for an interim middleweight championship on the April 13 event. The booking was first reported by ESPN.
Gastelum was scheduled to fight Whittaker on Feb. 9. Both men made weight and the fight was as good as official until Whittaker pulled out the day of the fight due to the hernia issue. Adesanya’s fight with Anderson Silva was moved to the main event spot. He went on to win a unanimous decision. Prior to the fight, Dana White had promised a middleweight title shot to the winner.
The booking may make the best of an unfortunate situation. Short of Whittaker making a quick recovery allowing UFC to rebook the fight with Gastelum, this may be the next best thing. In a recent MMATorch Roundtable, we discussed the possibility of an interim title fight between Adesanya and Gastelum, and while none of us were thrilled with the idea, we did recognize its merits.
With UFC 234 perhaps not doing gangbusters business on pay-per-view, UFC likely feels less incentive to rebook the same main event. Adesanya at least has some momentum coming off the Silva win, and if Gastelum comes out on top, he will be a stronger challenger in fan’s eyes to fight Whittaker.
-UFC light heavyweight Jake Collier has accepted a 10-month USADA suspension. Collier admitted using a prohibited stimulant, Higenamine stemming from a Dec. 27, 2018 test. Collier was given a reduced suspension due to his cooperation throughout the process.
-Douglas Lima vs. Michael Page has been officially booked for the May 11 Bellator event from Rosemont, Ill. Jake Hager will also fight on that card against an opponent to be determined.
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