COVINGTON’S CORNER: Fighting the good fight doesn’t make it great

By Sean Covington, MMATorch Contributor

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanya
Apr 13, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Kelvin Gastelum (red gloves) fights Israel Adesanya (blue gloves) during UFC 236 at State Farm Arena. Adesanya won by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

To have great fight it must be competitive throughout; it must also have a defining moment, something special, an x-factor, a highlight above all others; a Je ne sais quoi if you will. That can be something yet to be seen from either fighter. Or is it what’s at stake that makes the fight great? If it’s stakes then an interim title certainly wouldn’t be recognized as high stakes because interim titles have been watered down more than lime Fla-vor-aid from Aldi.

Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum didn’t have that special something. For five rounds we kept a close eye on Gastelum’s cardio with a couple of good exchanges. I got my hopes up during those exchanges and thought we may get something exciting but Adesanya was just looking to survive.

I wanted to see what people on Twitter were saying and a person I follow asked a question:

It’s not a “casual” question so almost no casuals answered casually.

There are some absolute classics that showed up many times in the thread like GSP vs Hughes 1 & 2 and Edgar vs Maynard 1 & 2, only once (I read most of, not all of the thread) did I see Adesanya vs. Gastelum and it was by a casual because that person’s list was all fights that took place relatively recently.

Here is a list of fights that are actually better than Adesanya vs. Gastelum:

GSP vs. Matt Hughes 1 & 2

GSP vs. Johny Hendricks

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler 1

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 1

Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald

Korean Zombie vs. Yair Rodriguez

Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez

Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar 1 & 2

BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar 1

Clay Guida vs. Gilbert Melendez

Dominick Cruz vs. TJ Dillashaw

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate 1

Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez 1

Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier 2

Henry Cejudo vs Demetrius Johnson 2 was a better fight but didn’t have the same potential to be explosive. The Adesanya-Gastelum fight was similar but had the potential to be a bloody war; that war never took place. Poirier-Holloway was a better fight than Adesanya-Gastelum and had enough to be an all-time great fight but falls very low on the list.

Gastelum is kind of a slouch, or at least he used to be, but I’m supposed to give Israel Adesanya all of this leeway for not putting him away. Then, in the very same instance, you want me to give him a ton of credit for the win. Critics want it both ways because they are constantly trying to anoint the next GOAT. Israel Adesanya went the distance with Anderson Silva who had a long layoff. Silva has something left in the tank but is definitely past his prime. Even Jon Jones called out Israel on Twitter for barely getting past Silva. I scored that fight differently; I think Silva won that fight.


Two underachieving fighters got a title shot for a belt that doesn’t mean anything, that’s really all that happened. Sure the fight was pretty good. A top 5 all-time fight? Not even close; let’s stop living in the moment.

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