Israel Adesanya will face Kelvin Gastelum for the interim Middleweight title at the upcoming UFC 236 pay-per-view (PPV) event on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia while division champion, Robert Whittaker, heals up from surgery.
While “The Last Stylebender” is thankful to take part in a championship fight, having a belt to solidify his status in MMA, oddly enough, doesn’t mean all that much to him.
“I’ve said this on record before. Fuck the belt. I don’t give a fuck about the belt, it’s just a trinket you pick up along the way,” said Israel on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “At least when it’s said and done I can say I was interim champion and I can say I was the unified champion, as well. Everything just makes it for a good story so I’m not really fussed about it. Interim, real, yeah it’s just a belt. It looks good, it looks good on black skin which is why I wear gold all the time, like a Magpie.”
A Magpie, for your information, is a bird that likes to collect shiny things, per Israel.
While a belt may not mean much to Israel, perhaps he will enjoy the perks that come with being a UFC champion such as a raise, bigger sponsorships and various other opportunities afforded to title holders. Getting there will be no easy task, as Kelvin is eyeing his first-ever taste of UFC gold, as well.
That said, Adesanya knows just what kind of threats Kelvin brings to the cage. Among them is a very aggressive, yet calculated style.
“He is very improved, from being an Ultimate Fighter champion to where he is now. His style is very Mexican. You have the Mexican style of boxing and he has a Mexican style of MMA,” he added.
“It’s a smart Mexican style, he doesn’t just brawl or looks for wars. He is calculated with the way he approaches the game. But, they haven't fought anyone like me, they haven't seen anyone like me. It’s the same rhetoric, but, when I say it’s just not talk or reading from a statement. I am speaking it because it is facts,” said a highly-confident Adesanya.
As impressed as Israel is with Gastelum’s skill set, he believes he provides an easier challenge than Whittaker will.
“I think he’s the easier fight out of the both of them so I’d rather get this one out of the way and then take on Robert the next,” he concluded.
UFC 236 will be headlined by an interim Lightweight title fight that will see Dustin Poirier take on Featherweight champion Max Holloway. For more on that fight card click here.