Rising star Israel Adesanya to face Kelvin Gastelum for interim belt at UFC 236

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Israel Adesanya taunts Anderson Silva during UFC 234 at Rod Laver Arena on Feb. 10, 2019 in the Melbourne, Australia. (Getty Images)
Israel Adesanya taunts Anderson Silva during UFC 234 at Rod Laver Arena on Feb. 10, 2019 in the Melbourne, Australia. (Getty Images)

A little more than a year in the UFC and five consecutive victories is all it took for Israel Adesanya to reach the top of the heap. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the unbeaten Adesanya will face Kelvin Gastelum on April 13 at UFC 236 for the interim middleweight title.

The UFC still hasn’t announced a venue for that date.

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Gastelum was to have fought Robert Whittaker for the middleweight belt at UFC 234 on Feb. 9 in Melbourne, Australia. But on the night before the fight, Whittaker began having abdominal pain. He was rushed to a hospital where he underwent surgery for a hernia and a collapsed bowel. He is hoping to be able to return in the summer.

As a result, the UFC has decided to pit Gastelum, who did not fight at UFC 234, against one of the fastest rising stars in the sport. Adesanya, a former Glory kickboxer, took the UFC by storm after debuting in Australia on Feb. 11, 2018, with a stoppage win over Rob Wilkinson. He’s subsequently beaten Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva.

The fight with Silva served as the main event of UFC 234 after Whittaker-Gastelum was pulled. Adesanya won a unanimous decision in a bout tagged as Fight of the Night.

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