Jasmin Frank, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Israel Adesanya
UFC 236 takes place Saturday night in Atlanta, and you can watch the five-fight main card live on ESPN+. The card is ripe with exciting fights throughout the night, but a majority of fans will likely be most-interested in the event’s final two fights for the interim middleweight and lightweight titles.
We already have you covered with in-depth betting analysis on the main and co-main event …
- Max Holloway & Dustin Poirier Rematch for Lightweight Gold
- Can Kelvin Gastelum Steal Israel Adesanya’s Spotlight?
… but that doesn’t mean we still can’t learn a thing or two about the night’s additional 11 fights!
What follows is a short breakdown on every matchup at UFC 236 in an effort to learn enough about each fighter to make a more educated wager on them if your heart desires.
>> Sign up for an ESPN+ subscription to watch every UFC 236 fight.
Interim Lightweight Title Fight: Max Holloway (-205) vs. Dustin Poirier (+165)
- Poirier has been on a war path since returning to lightweight in April, 2015. Overall, he’s won eight of his last 10 fights and suffered just one loss (KO to Michael Johnson) along with one no contest in his first fight against Eddie Alvarez. Poirier ranks first among active UFC lightweights in striking differential per minute at +2.69.
- Both Poirier (7.11 strikes per minute) and Holloway (6.9) rank among the top-five highest-volume strikers in the entire UFC. Holloway’s volume is like an avalanche that becomes more-and-more overwhelming as the fight goes on.
- Holloway’s last fight was arguably the finest championship performance in UFC history. Overall, his 290 significant strikes in a fight broke the UFC championship record.
- Holloway opened the week as a -230 favorite, but action has come in heavily on Poirier ever since.
Interim Middleweight Title Fight: Kelvin Gastelum (+150) vs. Israel Adesanya (-185)
- Gastelum managed to record at least one knockdown against former champions Jacare Souza, Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort during his hellacious run through the middleweight division. His constant barrages of one-two combinations have been difficult for just about all of his opponents do deal with throughout his career.
- Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya is a former Glory Kickboxing champion that has rung up a 16-0 record to start his mixed martial arts career. He won’t want anything to do with Gastelum – a state championship wrestler in high school – on the ground, but we’ve yet to see someone come close to out-classing Adesanya on the feet during his five UFC wins.
- Adesanya opened the week as a -175 favorite, but has since moved up to -185 behind the public’s support.
Light Heavyweight Fight: Eryk Anders (-200) vs. Khalil Rountree (+160)
- Anders played linebacker under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2006-2009 before starting his mixed martial arts career. All three of Anders’ career losses have come in his last four fights, but those were two split-decision losses along with one TKO loss via referee stoppage during his short-notice light heavyweight debut against Thiago Santos, who will fight Jon Jones for the division’s championship in July.
- Rountree recorded the biggest victory of his career at UFC 226 against long-time championship kickboxer Gokhan Saki, but was subsequently knocked out by rising contender Johnny Walker last November. Rountree’s career striking differential of -0.99 has made it tough for him to win fights by any way other than a finish, and he’s accordingly lost both of his career UFC fights that have made it past the first round.
Welterweight Fight: Alan Jouban (-120) vs. Dwight Grant (-110)
- Jouban will be giving up a five-inch reach advantage to Grant. This is uncharted territory for Jouban during his 11-fight UFC career, but he is 3-1 in fights with a reach advantage of at least three inches. Meanwhile, Grant is 1-1 in the UFC with a victory over Carlo Pedersoli Jr. (75-inch reach) and a split-decision loss to Zak Ottow (72-inch reach).
- The x-factor in this fight could end up being volume. Jouban finds himself among the top-10 welterweights in UFC history in knockdowns landed (No. 4), significant strike accuracy (No. 7), strikes landed per minute (No. 3) and striking differential (No. 4).
Light Heavyweight Fight: Ovince Saint Preux (-110) vs. Nikita Krylov (-120)
- Krylov has quite literally never had a fight go to the judges in 30 career MMA fights. This includes 10 fights inside the Octagon, which have featured three wins by TKO/KO and three by submission compared to three losses by submission and one by TKO.
- This is actually a rematch from UFC 171, when OSP defeated Krylov by first-round submission. The finish featured Saint Preux’s signature submission: The Von Flue choke.
UFC 236 Prelims
Lightweight Fight: Jalin Turner (-140) vs. Matt Frevola (+110)
- Turner boasts massive height (6-foot-3 vs. 5-foot-9) and reach (77 inches vs. 71) advantages over Frevola, although that advantage could be mitigated if the latter fighter is able to instigate his takedown-heavy attack. Turner was last seen starching Callan Potter in just 53 seconds back at UFC 234 in February.
Flyweight Fight: Wilson Reis (+130) vs. Alexandre Pantoja (-160)
- Reis is presently the UFC’s No. 4 ranked flyweight ahead of his bout with fifth-ranked Alexandre Pantoja. Although Reis has lost three of his last four fights, they’ve come against a high-level competitors such as John Moraga, current flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and former champion Demetrious Johnson. Both Reis (12:08) and Pantoja (11:58) have average fight times that would indicate we’ll see this fight last into the third round.
Welterweight Fight: Max Griffin (-105) vs. Zelim Imadaev (-125)
- Imadaev opened the week with -115 odds. Public support has come in on the undefeated Russian, who has won all eight of his fights by TKO or KO. He’s making his debut inside the octagon against Max Griffin, who has lost four of his last six fights dating back to August, 2016. There’s a bit of bad blood here, as Griffin sparred with Imadaev once upon a time and had this to say about his opponent …
“He’s an ass, man. He’s not a good guy … I don’t like the guy … I’m looking forward to showing him what it’s like.”
Bantamweight Fight: Boston Salmon (-150) vs. Khalid Taha (+120)
- Boston ‘Boom Boom’ Salmon has only lost once in seven seven career fights (by split-decision). Salmon won his last fight against Ricky Turcios on the debut episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He’ll hold a four-inch height advantage of Taha, who has lost two of his last three fights. Backing Salmon at his early -135 odds was one of my favorite bets on the card, but he still offers a bit of value at his current -150 odds.
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UFC 236 Early Prelims
Welterweight Fight: Curtis Millender (+115) vs. Belal Muhammad (-145)
- Millender fought just last month at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. dos Santos, ultimately losing by submission (rear-naked choke) to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Muhammad has also been busy, as he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Geoff Neal back in January at UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw. Millender boasts three and four inch height and reach advantages, respectively, although Muhammad has been much more of a takedown threat throughout his UFC career.
Bantamweight Fight: Montel Jackson (-550) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (+375)
- Jackson opened the week as a -500 favorite, but has since moved even higher. He’s the biggest favorite on the card. Soukhamthath is 13-6 as a professional and is being fed to Jackson, who has lost just once in eight career bouts.
Women Strawweight Fight: Lauren Mueller (+145) vs. Poliana Botelho (-175)
- Both of these women have high striking rates and don’t waste their time getting started. This is particularly true for Botelho, who notched the third-fastest finish in the history of the UFC women’s division back in May, 2018.
Bantamweight Fight: Brandon Davis (-170) vs. Randy Costa (+140)
- Costa is undefeated in four professional fights, while Davis is just 9-5. Both fighters are making a debut of sorts, as Costa will be inside the octagon for the first time in his career, while Davis has seemingly never fought at 135 pounds.