Though UFC 236 was chock-full of good fights, none could hold a candle to the main and co-main event championship bouts.
Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum appeared to have run away with Fight of the Night honors, as well as early Fight of the Year consideration, with their UFC 236 co-main event battle for the interim middleweight championship.
It looked like Adesanya might make it a quick night as he peppered Gastelum with his pinpoint accuracy early in the fight. Gastelum, however, regrouped and pressed forward, hurting Adesanya with powerful punches like no one before him.
After five rounds, Adesanya did enough to earn a unanimous nod from the judges, even though he wore the effects of Gastelum’s power on his face. He left the Octagon with the interim middleweight belt.
Not to be outdone, Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier amped things up another notch in the night’s main event, again giving the fans five rounds of battle before a winner was declared.
Poirier rocked Holloway early with power punches, landing the most significant damage ever on the UFC featherweight champion. Holloway didn’t fold in the heavier weight class, as he fought through the damage and unloaded with his own punches, putting Poirier in difficultly.
Just as it appeared that Holloway might become the next UFC double-champ, Poirier took the momentum back and unloaded on Holloway in the final frame to get the nod from the judges. Poirier earned the interim lightweight belt, securing a shot at undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.
Though both fights went to the scorecards, neither left fans unsatisfied.
UFC officials couldn’t declare one fight over the other when it came to post-fight honors, so they did away with the usual Performance of the Night bonuses and instead issued two Fight of the Night honors, awarding all four fighters in the main and co-main event bouts a $50,000 bonus for their outstanding performances.
UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 Fighter Bonuses
- Fight of the Night: Dustin Poirier def. Max Holloway
- Fight of the Night: Israel Adesanya def. Kelvin Gastelum
(Photo courtesy of UFC)