On a night that saw two some of the best fights in recent memory, UFC 236 far exceeded any expectations. Dustin Poirier denied Max Holloway a shot at another belt while Israel Adesanya picked up an interim belt of his own. Outside of a relatively weak fight between Dwight Grant and Alan Jouban, the rest of the card delivered electric performances and was incredibly entertaining throughout.
The Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum fight, in particular, stood out as one of the best fights possibly in UFC history. An absolute war that somehow saw neither fighter get finished, it was a true slugfest for the entirety of the 25 minutes. Whittaker vs Adesanya is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting fight and Kelvin Gastelum will almost certainly receive another high-level opponent and an opportunity to fight in a title eliminator. UFC President Dana White tends to reward those who put on incredible performances.
The main card started at 10 pm ET and the preliminary card – which aired on ESPN that started at 8 pm ET – was highlighted by an electric war between Matt Frevola and Jalin Turner. The early prelims also delivered some exciting fights, highlighted by a Brandon Davies comeback submission over Randy Costa.
Keep it here for live results, updates and analysis. Want to watch the fight live? You can order it here through ESPN+.
Main Event: Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier 2
All three judges score the fight 49-46 for the new interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier. An inspired performance from the longtime UFC veteran, Dustin Poirier picked up a win in another instant classic at UFC 236. He denied Max Holloway a shot at entering the “Champ Champ” club and put forth a gritty performance against one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet. Next, Poirier has a matchup with the suspended champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a unification match for the undisputed UFC lightweight championship.
Poirier comes out of the round with a nice pep in his step and looking much fresher. Both men find a home for the jab early and the two start to open up in the middle of the ring. Poirier’s straight punches are finding a repeated home on Holloway. The two trade punches in the middle of the ring as neither can find an opening to get inside and unload. Poirier feels comfortable sitting back as he is fighting like he’s up on the scorecards. He’s tagging Holloway from the outside and whenever Holloway lands, Poirier lands back. Holloway is definitely landing more, but as has been the theme of the fight, Poirier is landing the bigger shots. Poirier goes for another takedown with just over a minute life and smothers Holloway against the cage once more. Poirier seems content to press him up against the cage for the rest of the fight and neutralize any of Holloway’s striking ability. Poirier isn’t giving Holloway any space to breathe as the fight winds down and in the final seconds, the men stand and trade with one another until the bell. Another 10-9 Poirier, and on my scorecards, Poirier wins the belt 49-46
Poirier comes out and stings Holloway with a nice straight right and goes for a takedown. He ends up getting Holloway down after a brief struggle on the fence. Holloway eventually works his way up and lands a solid knee to the body. Holloway is eating shots but lands more strong knees to the body of Poirier. Holloway is starting to open up now and has Poirier up against the cage. Poirier gets out but seems to be extremely worn out in the championship rounds. Poirier starts mounting some offense and forces Holloway backward with some nice shots. Holloway is ripping the body of Poirier with knees but keeps landing to the head of Holloway with power shots. Both men are pretty banged up at this point in the fight and Poirier lands a nice knee that has Holloway LEAKING blood. Poirier is extremely tired and goes for a takedown, smothering Holloway against the cage. Holloway is leaking blood all over Poirier and the ring. Poirier secures a darce choke as the round ends and Holloway is saved by the bell. An extremely close round but the late push from Poirier stole the round 10-9.
Holloway comes out trying to work the body early but Poirier lands a nice counter hook. At this point, Poirier is just outboxing Holloway and taking advantage of the featherweight champion’s lack of power at 155 pounds. Poirier is throwing punches with bad intentions here and Holloway’s face is starting to swell pretty bad. Holloway is landing but Poirier is once again hitting him harder on the way back out. Poirier is landing everything with his left hand as Holloway’s right eye is basically shut. Holloway is landing more now but Poirier is just eating everything he throws with ease. Holloway is turning things up at the end of the third and tries for a flying knee that sends Poirier looking for a takedown. The round ends with Poirier smothering Holloway against the cage as Holloway throws some hard elbows. Another close round but 10-9 Holloway off the late flurry of punches.
Nothing much happens in the first minute of the fight as both men are looking to pick their shots. Poirier goes back to the leg kick and lands another solid one there. Holloway is starting to look a bit stronger this round and is mixing up his shots well, landing to the body of Poirier. Poirier catches Holloway with a solid elbow and the two men are starting to chirp back and forth before Poirier lands a stiff straight left. Poirier goes for a takedown but Holloway turns him away rather easily. Holloway is starting to apply a bit more pressure and backing Poirier up. Holloway gets wobbled again but recovers quickly once again. Poirier is throwing bombs and catches Holloway with a big right hook, sending him reeling back. Another incredible round and much closer but 10-9 Poirier off damage.
Poirier comes out and lands a nice leg kick on Holloway while the two start to feel one another out. Poirier comes at him with more nice leg kicks and lands some stiff shots on Holloway. Holloway comes out and lands a big shot of his own which he follows up with a flurry of punches. Poirier circles out and seems to be okay as he responds with a monster shot of his own. He has Holloway on the ropes and is throwing the kitchen sink. Holloway is chucking back and both men are just unloading. Poirier keeps tagging Holloway and Holloway is just eating all these and is clearly getting wobbled. Holloway answer with a few nice shots towards the end but Poirier answers with even bigger shots back. Down the stretch Poirier continues to land big power shots, one can only wonder how much longer Holloway can take this kind of beating before going down. 10-9 Poirier.
Main Card: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Israel Adesanaya
We have an Interim Middleweight champion and the official next opponent for incumbent champion Robert Whittaker. All three judges score the fight 48-46 Adesanya. An incredible fight between two warriors and a fantastic showing from the sport’s brightest young star. Adesanya showcased fantastic defensive wrestling and heart against an extremely tough and battle-tested opponent. That war is going to be tough to follow up. As Joe Rogan said on the broadcast, “I can’t believe we have another fight.”
After an incredible fourth round, it looks like things are all tied up heading into a winner take all fifth round. Gastelum comes charging out like a bull but isn’t able to pin Adesanya on the cage. Adesanya is looking to go back to establishing distance and working his leg kicks. Adesanya lands a nice combination of punches but Gastelum just eats it like nothing. Adesanya is starting to pick Gastelum apart on the feet and Gastelum goes for the takedown. Adesanya almost catches him with a guillotine then shortly after goes for a triangle before losing it and heading back to the feet. Adesanya rocks Gastelum again back on the feet and starts landing more of his straight punches down the middle. Gastelum is tough but visibly hurt. Gastelum goes for another takedown, to which Adesanya once again brushes aside. Adesanya once again lands a powerful straight right snapping Gastelum’s head back before dropping him with a nice combination. Gastelum gets back up and attempts a single leg takedown that Adesanya defends again. Gastelum is getting rocked on the feet now and goes down again. Adesanya is going for the finish with 15 seconds left and throwing the kitchen sink. Gastelum is down again as the fight goes to the buzzer in an electric all time fight. Adesanya wins the round 10-8 and the fight 48-46 on my scorecard.
As the championship rounds kick off the two engage early but nobody does anything of note. Gastelum is pressuring hard but unable to effectively close distance or keep Adesanya against the cage. Adesanya’s work to the body is starting to add up as he lands another big knee on Gastelum. Gastelum eats a big shot but keeps pushing forward unfazed and works Adesanya back into the corner. However, Gastelum is unable to trap the taller and more athletic fighter and is resigned to chasing him around the ring. The two fighters start to open up with about two minutes left and both are landing big shots. Gastelum and Adesanya are both bleeding now. Both fighters continue to land and the fight is starting to turn more into a sloppy brawl. Gastelum rocks Adesanya with a minute left and tries for the takedown but gets stuffed. Adesanya wobbles Gastelum back with a stiff shot but Gastelum recovers quickly. The round ends with Gastelum working for a takedown on Adesanya. INCREDIBLE round, tough to call but 10-9 Gastelum as Adesanya took some serious damage that round.
Adesanya once again comes out working the kicks and is finding a home for them on the lead leg. Adesanya looks to be pulling ahead on the feet now but the pace slows down a bit as both men have learned the hard way to respect one another’s power. Adesanya lands a few stiff straights to Gastelum during a brief exchange about halfway through the round but the two fighters separate and go back to circling from a distance. A big Adesanya knee sent Gastelum looking for a takedown but Adesanya once again turns him away. Gastelum is starting to land a few shots again in the second half and with just over a minute left secures his first takedown. Adesanya is quickly back on his feet and working the leg kicks and straight punches. Gastelum is starting to look a bit tired here heading into the championship rounds. A tough one to score but I’ll go 10-9 Adesanya on the back of his activity level.
Adesanya looks much more comfortable and lands a nice body kick to start the round. Neither fighter has done too much damage in the early going of the round but the activity level on both ends is starting to pick up. Gastelum forces Adesanya up against the cage but Adesanya slips around and lands some light shots to the body. Gastelum misses with a big overhand and Adesanya drops him with a right hand, putting him right back in the fight. Adesanya seems to be finding a home for more of his straight punches down the pipe after the knockdown. Adesanya is starting to pick him apart in the latter half of the round. Gastelum is put down again by an Adesanya elbow and straight right combination but quickly gets back up. Gastelum goes for a takedown but Adesanya stuffs his effort. A big round for the super prospect, 10-9 Adesanya.
Adesanya comes out establishing his range with solid kicks to keep Gastelum at bay. Gastelum tries for a few big shots of his own but doesn’t really land anything that does damage. Gastelum catches Adesanya retreating and stumbles him with a hook. Adesanya seems to have recovered but Gastelum keeps landing solid shots and seems to be getting the better of the exchanges as the round goes on. Adesanya is just trying to keep his distance at this point and Gastelum is throwing big shots that are just missing. Adesanya is landing occasional shots but nothing that has stumbled Gastelum. As the round comes to a close, Adesanya looks to be getting more comfortable but the first round is undoubtedly 10-9 Gastelum.
UFC 236 airs April 13 on ESPN+. You can order it here.
Main Card: Eryk Anders vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.
No surprise as Rountree Jr. picks up a resounding unanimous 30-26 decision victory over Eryk Anders. Rountree looked by far the best he has ever looked in the octagon. Showing off incredibly crisp Thai boxing, Rountree looked like an entirely different fighter and his devastating power combined with the Thai boxing speed makes for an incredibly dangerous mix. Rountree had been making trips to Thailand to help with his training and the trips undoubtedly paid off. A huge win for a very good up and coming light heavyweight prospect.
For some reason, Anders’ corner sends him back out for the third round. Rountree keeps attacking the lead leg and while Anders looks a bit better, Rountree is clearly the better fighter through the first minute. Rountree seems comfortable sitting back and attacking Anders’ leg and is setting up solid shots to the head. Rountree’s leg looks absolutely terrible, the fact that Anders is still standing after the knockdowns and leg kicks is borderline miraculous. Rountree seems content to sit on the outside and just pick Anders apart down the stretch. Anders showed a bit more life in this round but just can’t mount enough offense to win the round. 10-9 Rountree. Going into the decision I have the fight 30-26 Rountree (though it could be 30-25 after that second round).
Rountree comes out and drops Anders with a huge straight right but Anders survives and Rountree lets him back up. Rountree clips Anders again with a big left hook and Anders once again survives. Rountree lets him back up and Anders immediately goes for a takedown which is stuffed. Rountree’s striking looks excellent and he’s just landing everything he throws at this point. Anders is incredibly tough but technically overmatched right now. Rountree drops him for a third time with a huge right hook and ONCE AGAIN Anders survives and Rountree lets him back up. Rountree drops Anders a fourth time and with a huge right hook, these punches are sounding like a baseball bat at this point. Anders survives and is once again let back up by Rountree. Scoring this round 10-8 almost doesn’t feel like enough.
The round starts with both fighters clearly respecting one another’s power but Rountree is having some serious success with his kicks. Rountree is really showing off his Thai boxing and working the front leg and body of Anders with kicks. Anders can’t find a way in and Rountree seems to be controlling the round so far. Rountree keeps destroying the front leg, Anders cannot take too many more of those shots. Rountree keeps going back to the leg kick and Anders’ leg is BRIGHT red. Anders switches stance but Rountree keeps attacking the hurt leg. Rountree is putting on a Thai Boxing clinic and dominated Anders on the feet. 10-9 Rountree.
Main Card: Alan Jouban vs. Dwight Grant
A split decision victory for Dwight Grant! Scores ranged all over for the two fighters with one judge scoring the fight 30-27 Jouban. It was an incredibly ugly fight and neither fighter really earned a win here. That said, it goes to show just how much power these two men have and how much fear they can instill into an opponent – even one who hits as hard as they do. Grant likely needs another, more convincing, win against a similar caliber opponent before taking a step up in competition.
The pace has picked up a bit to start the third, Grant seems to be getting the better of the exchanges on the feet early but that really isn’t saying much as Grant hasn’t landed a ton. Grant hits Jouban with a solid uppercut around the three-minute mark and Jouban seems too timid to respond. Jouban catches Grant below the belt on accident with a very hard shot. Grant takes plenty of time to get his legs back. Jouban starts to pressure a bit more but just isn’t landing anything. Down the stretch, once again neither fighter is able to land much and are clearly too respectful of one another’s power. Right at the end of the round Jouban shoots for a takedown and somehow takes Grant’s back despite Grant stuffing the takedown. The round ends but Jouban might have snuck away with the round. 10-9 Jouban. Tentatively I have the fight scored 29-28 Jouban but this is more of a coinflip.
Grant lands a huge looping uppercut that momentarily stuns Jouban but he quickly gets his head back and the two resume circling and throwing nothing of substance. The two would keep circling and not engaging, eliciting some noise from the crowd to pick up the pace. Eventually, Jouban gets Grant up against the cage but Grant quickly gets back out and the two start circling and throwing empty shots again. Both fighters clearly respect one another’s power and both are hesitant to step into the pocket and unload. 10-9 Grant.
The two fighters take their time feeling one another out. Jouban eventually pressures Grant up against the cage and shocking takes Grant down. Grant gets back up and throws some absolute haymakers, Jouban is glanced by one but nothing lands clean. The two would continue to intermittently throw on the feet while looking for their shot. Jouban lands a huge shot on Grant who responds by backing up and landing a nice hook of his own. Neither fighter is able to land much of significance for the rest of the round. There are a ton of near misses on both ends for fight-ending shots. 10-9 Jouban.
Main Card: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Nikita Krylov
Nikita Krylov got his revenge in his rematch against Ovince Saint-Preux. Krylov looked to be the vastly superior striker throughout the fight and after an initial bullrush and repeated takedowns from OSP, simply manhandled the worn out big man. Krylov is now in line for a relatively big step up in competition and is like a win or two away from a title shot in a wide open light heavyweight division.
Krylov once again looks great on his feet to start the round and hurt OSP with a nice right hand early. OSP immediately goes for the clinch and pressures Krylov against the cage. Krylov flips OSP around on the cage and promptly takes him down, mounts him, and transitions to his back. Krylov ends up going for the rear naked choke. Despite never having the choke fully under his neck, Krylov cranked the chin hard enough to force an OSP tap.
Krylov looks very sharp on the feet landing a number of body and leg kicks early. Saint Preux decides he wants no part and takes him down within the first minute. Krylov would work his way up against the cage while trying to lock in a guillotine choke that OSP would eventually slip out of. OSP lands another takedown but Krylov once again is back on his feet against the cage within seconds. This time Krylov tries for the takedown after the two break but ends up getting taken down by OSP, who mounts him and does some solid damage. Krylov would get back to his feet for the last minute and start to land some big shots. Saint Preux is clearly tired heading down the home stretch in the first. 10-9 OSP but things don’t look great moving forward.
UFC 236 airs tonight on ESPN+. You can order it here.