There’s a good chance that UFC 236 was among, if not the least purchased pay-per-view in modern UFC history. Anecdotal evidence on Twitter indicated that many fans, and even some UFC fighters, were having trouble ordering the show. One issue was that most people use an app to access ESPN+ but you had to purchase the event through the ESPN+ website on a web browser. When fans accessed their apps to try and order the show at the same place they intended to watch it, they were met with errors. Not having in-app purchases allows UFC and ESPN to avoid giving a cut of sales to distributors such as Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. We likely won’t get PPV numbers from ESPN or UFC, but sales for the show were likely going to be low going in, and these issues definitely won’t have helped.
In the first of two interim title fights Saturday night, Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya went to war. Gastelum took the first round, rocking Adesanya and placing immense pressure on his opponent. Adesanya came back to even things up in the second, dropping Gastelum midway through the round and picking up the volume of strikes as the round went on. The third round was more closely fought, with Adesanya continuing his striking advantage while Gastelum was briefly able to take him down to the mat. Gastelum likely evened things up on the scorecards after four rounds. He rocked Adesanya with a left high kick that wobbled the Kiwi. Gastelum tried to go for the finish but Adesanya persevered. Gastelum came out hot for the final round and was not going to let the fight get away from him. He almost did just that when he went in for a takedown Adesanya nearly caught him in several submissions. Then, in perhaps the fight-defining exchange, Adesanya dropped Gastelum in the center of the cage. “The Last Stylebender” score two more knockdowns in the final moments of the fight, seemingly doing enough to take the victory.
The judges agreed, giving Adesanya a 48-46 win and the UFC interim middleweight championship in a well-deserved victory.
In the main event, Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier battled in a rematch of a 2012 fight that Poirier won by submission. Poirier hurt Holloway early in the first round and Holloway seemed to have a difficult time recovering. Poirier poured on the offense throughout a wild opening round. The second round was closer. Holloway regained his footing and began talking to Poirier as they fought. Holloway was landing shots but got rocked twice late in the round and Poirier may have stolen the round. Holloway had his best round thus far in the third when he turned up the volume on his striking and forced Poirier to try and close the distance and go for the takedown. Poirier opened the fourth round with a takedown that slowed down the tempo of the fight. When Holloway got up, he seemed renewed and really put the pressure on Poirier. Late in the round, Poirier caught Holloway with a knee that bloodied him up. Still, Holloway’s volume of strikes landed may have been enough to take the round. The final round saw the intensity dip a bit, but both guys were still swinging. Poirier’s punches appeared to land the hardest and he went for a late takedown attempt that forced Holloway to defend intensely. Poirier appeared to take the final round, but the fight could have gone either way.
When it went to the scorecards, the judges gave the call to Poirier with three 49-46 cards. Holloway lost his first fight in six years and now Poirier finds himself to potentially fight UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.