UFC 236 - Atlanta Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC 236? Sunday 14th April, 2019 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 236? State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
What channel is UFC 236? BT Sport 1
Where can I stream UFC on ESPN 2? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
For viewers in the United States, the game will be shown live and you can take advantage of a free trial with ESPN+ and subscribe now by clicking here!
Are tickets still available for UFC on ESPN 2? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket-info?utm_source=ufc&utm_medium=tab&utm_campaign=tickets
Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier
If the lightweight division wasn’t stacked enough, the imperious featherweight champion has entered the fray to shake things up. Max Holloway eyes more gold as he takes on another beast desperate for a shot at the coveted lightweight championship – Dustin Poirier.
These guys met back in 2012 where Poirier handed a young Holloway his first loss via a brilliant armbar on a mounted triangle. They now meet at UFC 236 for the interim lightweight belt but we can ignore how that fight turned out as they are both completely different fighters now.
Poirier moved back up to lightweight after a loss to Conor McGregor and is clearly at a better class as he has compiled a record of 8-1 (1) since, including finishes against a plethora of animals and former champions such as Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez.
Holloway is enjoying an even more impressive run on a 13-fight winning streak, cleaning out a talented featherweight division. The Hawaiian is now looking to prove he is the pound-for-pound king by earning the interim belt for a chance to reign the lightweight division.
The question is, how Holloway will perform up at lightweight and in all likelihood, we will see the best version of him yet. The cut to 145 lbs is gruelling for him now and he is huge for that division. At lightweight he is still going to have a size advantage over the majority of his opponents and with less weight to cut, he is going to have more durability, more endurance and more explosiveness.
It is going to be fascinating to see how he fares and Poirier, in the form of his life, will be the perfect test. We know he is a terrific grappler but his stand-up has become one of the most dangerous in the division and he proved that by knocking out Alvarez and Gaethje in his last fights.
This will be a stand-up battle of the highest calibre and although Poirier gives up two inches in height, he boasts a three-inch reach advantage which will be crucial against Holloway, whom also breaks his opponents down with unrelenting long punches.
It is hard to bet against Poirier, but Holloway is going to be even more dangerous at lightweight and land at an even higher velocity. The toughness of both men is likely to drag this out into the championship rounds but they both throw at such a high rate that it is likely one man will be left standing.
Winner: Holloway via KO/TKO
Kelvin Gastelum vs Israel Adesanya
The first of two interim title fights at UFC 236 graces the co-main event in the shape of Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanysa. The terrible luck of the current middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, has forced him onto the side lines yet again and he will have to watch on as the contender for his title emerges.
Gastelum missed out on his chance to fight Whittaker at UFC 234, after the Aussie collapsed hours before the event requiring emergency surgery for an abdominal hernia and a collapsed bowel. He earned the shot after two of the biggest wins of his career, knocking the former champion Michael Bisping out cold and then earning a decision over Jacare Souza.
To the annoyance of his fellow middleweight contenders, Adesanya fights for the interim title after only five UFC fights. His notable wins include Derek Brunson and an ageing Anderson Silva but ‘The Last Stylebender’ is an unbeaten and electrifying striker with a bucket-load of charisma that attracts fans to fights, which is usually more important to the UFC.
Gastelum’s only setback at middleweight was Chris Weidman, who manhandled him around the octagon. Luckily for him, Adesanysa will have zero interest in grappling, but how will Gastelum fare with the Nigerian's huge height and reach advantage? ‘The Last Stylebender’ boasts seven inches in height, nearly nine inches in arm reach and five in leg reach. This is huge, but for an elite striker this difference could dictate how the fight goes.
Gastelum has the speed and power in his hands to put Adesanya away but nobody has been able to get close enough to test his chin so Gastelum will be wise to try and get the fight to the floor. The key to capture the takedown will be to mix strikes with quick level-changes, in which he has expertise.
However, Adesanya’s distance control and ability to spring up from takedowns will give him enough time on the feet to pepper Gastelum from distance. Gastelum is going to need a strategy in taking Adesanya down, which will also be his only method to set up a knockout, but the class of 'The Last Stylebender' on the feet along with his reach will be enough to outpoint Gastelum at the least.
Winner: Adesanya via Decision
Eryk Anders vs Khalil Rountree Jr
Eryk Anders is in unfamiliar territory, having lost three of his last four fights. Lyoto Machida narrowly outpointed him to hand him the second loss of his career but Anders responded with a vintage performance by almost taking Tim Williams’ head off with a kick. However, he then moved up to light heavyweight to take on fellow slugger, Thiago Santos, on short notice and fell short in a brutal battle that left him unable to stand for the fourth round. A vintage performance from Santos was followed by another humbling by Elias Theodorou in his next fight. Back at middleweight, Theodorou played it safe and edged another decision win.
We can rest assured that Khalil Rountree Jr. will not play it safe. Like Anders, he comes to finish with thunderous power which we saw when he took on legendary kickboxer Gokhan Saki. He chose to stand with the decorated champion and took less than two minutes to knock him out. However, he got a taste of his own medicine when he took on Johnny Walker, by eating a devastating elbow that knocked him out cold.
We have discovered how dangerous Rountree Jr. is on the feet and his game plan will be to patiently wait for an opening to find Anders’ chin. Anders has more strings to his bow as a strong grappler but he also has the explosiveness to match as a former linebacker. He will back himself in the exchanges, but he also has the plan B of taking the fight to the floor.
Anders is a warrior so don’t be surprised to see him stand in front of his fellow powerhouse, and the threat of the takedown may create the opening to uncork his monstrous left hand.
Winner: Anders via KO/TKO
Alan Jouban vs Dwight Grant
Alan Jouban is back in action after more than a year out. Jouban had to pull out of his last fight against Danny Roberts with a nasty neck injury but returns hoping to pick up where he left off in his last outing, which was his best performance to date. It was a violent exchange with Ben Saunders in which he displayed an array of creative strikes ,before cleaning his clock with a left hand.
Dwight Grant earned a contract with a vicious knockout over Tyler Hill on Dana White’s Contender Series. However, he lost his UFC debut against Zak Ottow, just missing out on a decision, but he bounced back in his last fight against Carlo Pedersoli by countering a kick with a straight right to send him airbourne.
Grant is all limbs and his reach advantage will be crucial against Jouban, an experienced and dangerous striker, so Grant will have to execute a strategy to keep the distance and avoid the variety of striking that will head his way.
If the fight goes to the floor you have to favour Jouban, whom has rapidly improving Jiu-Jitsu, but this is likely to remain on the feet and, considering their knockout tallies, another finish is very likely. However, their toughness may see them through to a decision where Jouban's output and array of strikes will pay dividends.
Winner: Jouban via Decision
Ovince Saint Preux vs Nikita Krylov
Ovince Saint Preux (OSP) has struggled to crack a top 10 ranking spot in the light heavyweight division but he has been one of the most active fighters since joining the UFC. He has fought 18 times since his debut in 2013 and has earned some big wins over the likes of Shogun Rua, Corey Anderson and Tyson Pedro but has had streaks broken by top contenders and is coming off a close decision loss to the up and coming Dominick Reyes.
Nikita Krylov has also been active over the years and started his second stint in the UFC in September last year. Jan Blachowicz welcomed him back but the fight didn’t go his way as he got caught in an arm triangle in the second round. The talented Ukrainian is desperate for a win to settle in the organisation.
They first met back in 2014 for their third UFC fight where OSP put Krylov to sleep with the first of his three career Von Flue chokes. This was such a rare choke at the time that Krylov didn’t see it coming but he will be well prepared this time round.
They have both continued to improve since that encounter and are fully expected to put on a violent and exciting fight. They are both exceptional on the feet with legitimate knockout power and if they decide to grapple you can also expect a finish.
An interesting stat is that not one of Krylov's 30 fights has gone to a decision and, considering OSP’s abilities, the judges are unlikely to be required.
These guys are so dangerous in every area that a finish could fall either way. Krylov has only lost twice in his last 11 fights but he is yet to prove himself among UFC calibre competition and OSP has the experience to exploit that.
Winner: Saint Preux via KO/TKO
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric