So as we now sit in amongst the rubble of the war that was UFC 236 this past weekend, there is one questions I want to ask all you MMA fans out there – was Kelvin Gastelum vs Israel Adesanya followed by Dustin Poirier vs Max Holloway the greatest back to back MMA title fights ever?
Today I want to make the argument that yes these bouts really were the best back to back title fights in MMA history. Now of course this is a subjective opinion and you can of course have your own, but at the very least if you are an MMA fan I’m sure you were impressed by what you saw in Georgia, Atlanta.
Usually on a main and co-main event, one of the two top fights will usually be mainly one sided, but rarely do we see such competitive back to back title fights – I’m personally still stunned by the level of MMA technique, expression, toughness and will to win that we witnessed in e the co main and main event at UFC 236.
As I said in a few tweets before the fights – any true MMA fan just knew that the co-main and especially the main event could not possibly dissapoint, under no circumstances and we couldn’t have been more right. I didn’t expect the co-main event to be an even better fight then the main event, but both fights were the stuff of legend.
So let’s take a closer look at these instant classic fights, here’s some of the highlights –
Why were these fights so good
No don’t get me wrong I love to see quick finishes in MMA fights sometimes and you can even tell with many fights before they start that it will not last long, especially when one fighter is far superior in certain areas or everywhere to his or her opponent.
But most of the time what I want to see in an MMA bout, is both fighters displaying their full skillset on eachother, I want to see high level expressions competing against each other in well matched bouts, I want to see fearlessness in both fighters, fast paced action with both fighters not willing to give up until the final bell.
Fights that essentially show you what is possible when you believe, show the power of the human will, it shows you a back and forth narrative, of facing and overcoming adversity. These fights are special because no matter who wins on the judges scorecards, both fighters leave the fight with their heads held high knowing they really did give everything they had.
Even in a loss if you take part in legendary fights like this, then you will always win more fans then a slow paced, safe, timid victory – so Kelvin Gastelum and Max Holloway have nothing to be ashamed of and will undoubtedly have won more fans.
What happened in the fights?
So let’s look closer at what happened in these two amazing fights and breakdown why they had so much to them – now for those of you who don’t know Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision and Dustin Poirier defeated Max Holloway via the same means.
Now when Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya started immediately in the first round when Gastelum landed some big shots and even partially dropped Adesanya, you just knew this would be a dog fight of a high level, but Gastelum edged the round I felt.
In the second round Adesanya landed a big overhand right dropping Gastelum, winning him the round – round 3 was very close with Gastelum getting a brief takedown and both men landing significant strikes on the feet, but Adesanya edged the round in my eyes. Round 4 was again very close, both men rocking eachother hard but then Gastelum landed a beautiful left head kick to really put Adesanya on skates for about 20 seconds, Gastelum landed some great follow up shots to secure the round.
So it was 2-2 going into the fifth and the 5th round was really the deciding round of this fight, as Adesanya started building momentum and killer instinct, he nearly a caughta triangle in a ground exchange, but then back on the feet Adesanya proceeded to drop Gastelum 3 times in the last minute and a half as well as landing some brutal ground and pound nearly getting the finish, but securing him the round and the fight.
It is an instant classic fight which I have already watched three times since last week, truly amazing heart from both men, amazing chin on both especially Gastelum, amazing boxing from Gastelum, especially his left hand – amazing varied striking, footwork and timing from Adesanya.
Now it wasn’t easy for Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier to follow up after the incredible high level of Gastelum vs Adesanya, but follow up they did and in almost an equally compelling way.
Poirier clearly had considerably better power which was noticeable early, but Holloway clipped Poirier in an exchange, but then got clipped himself shortly after and was getting tagged and wobbled all round after.
In the second round again Poirier landed the much harder shots partially dropping Holloway for a moment and stumbling him many times – in the third round it continued with Poirier punishing Holloway hard on the feet with his boxing, but Max did rally back to end the round strong stunning Poirier.
Then Holloway had a really strong round 4 probably pipping it, then Poirier won the 5th round closing out a unanimous decision victory after a grueling match.
It has to be up there!
No matter how you feel about UFC 236, if you now agree Poirier vs Holloway and Adesanya vs Gastelum are the best back to back MMA title fights ever, or if you don’t. Either way you have to agree that these two fights are up there for some of the best, most compelling fights ever.
As MMA fans we have to appreciate and respect when we get treated to the highest level of fighting, because it definitely doesn’t happen every weekend!
That’s all for today folks, but I hope you have enjoyed this post, so if you did then please like, share, subscribe and stay tuned for more from the world of MMA right here at the MMAGateway.
Stay loose man!