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Holloway to avenge previous Poirier defeat? Get UFC 236 tips for Saturday

Leigh Copson 11 Apr 2019
Max Holloway (credit: Igor Vidyashev/Zuma Press/PA Images)

UFC 236 predictions for Saturday, April 13. Can featherweight champion Max Holloway become the new interim lightweight title-holder, or will Dustin Poirier repeat his 2012 win over ‘Blessed’ in order to claim his first UFC crown? And will rising star Israel Adesanya claim the interim middleweight title at the expense of Kelvin Gastelum? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips for UFC 236.

Max Holloway v Dustin Poirier

Max Holloway cemented his status as the premier featherweight fighter on the planet when he picked apart and stopped Brian Ortega last December. Many felt ‘T-City’ would be able to continue his rise at the expense of the champion, who had been out of action for over a year, but Holloway showed little signs of ring rust as he beat up the challenger and forced the doctor to call off the fight. That victory was his 13th straight win since the decision defeat to Conor McGregor way back in August 2013 and with every fight ‘Blessed’ is staking a claim to be the number one pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. He could make his case even stronger on Saturday night!

Holloway is leaving his featherweight ‘home’ in order to step up to the lightweight ranks and challenge for the interim 155lb crown, but awaiting him is a familiar face in Dustin Poirier – a man who has already beaten him once in the professional ranks. ‘Diamond’ made ‘Blessed’ tap to an armbar when they met on the undercard of UFC 143 back in February 2012, but that was only Holloway’s fifth professional fight and he has grown considerably since then. Poirier has improved too though, and his last three fights have easily been the most impressive of his career. ‘Poirer’ has submitted Anthony Pettis and stopped both Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje with strikes, so can he add Holloway to his growing list of big-name scalps?

I am not so sure. While Poirier is a much better fighter than the one Holloway faced in 2012, it cannot be understated just how much the reigning featherweight champion has advanced. His last four performances have been nothing short of spectacular – he has picked part, beaten up and finished Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo (twice) and the aforementioned Ortega, and I believe we could see more of the same here has Holloway takes a big step towards becoming the company’s latest two-weight world champion.

Kelvin Gastelum v Israel Adesanya

There was no spectacular finish, but Israel Adesanya recorded the most high-profile victory of his MMA career in February when he went five rounds with the legendary Anderson Silva to improve his record to 16-0. This surge has catapulted him right into title contention in the UFC middleweight division, and with current champion Robert Whittaker sidelined ‘The Last Stylebender’ will have an opportunity to land a guaranteed title fight when he challenges for the 185lb division’s interim belt on Saturday night.

Standing opposite him will be Kelvin Gastelum, who was awarded the belt in February after Whittaker was forced to withdraw from their title fight in Australia due to a serious stomach problem. He immediately declared himself the true champion of the division, but now he must back up those words by making a successful defence of the interim belt here. So can he? There is no doubting that Gastelum made the right call when he moved up from the welterweight division to the middleweight ranks, with his knockout power and superb wrestling skills making him a legitimate contender. He looks right at home at 185lbs and he goes into this bout on the back of a couple of big wins over former champion Michael Bisping and long-time contender Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, but I suspect that he will be brought back down to Earth here.

While Gastelum has great stopping power, he is also flat-footed and predictable when it comes to his striking. The same cannot be said for Adesanya who possesses crisp striking skills coupled with a real air of unpredictability. However, more importantly, Adesanya is great at managing the distance between himself and his opponent and that will prevent Gastelum from landing big bombs. It will also make it difficult for him to take ‘The Last Stylebender’ down to the mat. Gastelum may have his moments, but ultimately I expect Adesanya to control the fight for 25 minutes and get the nod from the judges. 

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Holloway to avenge previous Poirier defeat? Get UFC 236 tips for Saturday

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