Dustin Poirier upset Max Holloway at UFC 236.
SI.com is providing blow-by-blow analysis and updates from UFC 236 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. You can watch the fight online with ESPN+. Viewers must have an ESPN+ subscription in order to order the fight. New subscribers can order UFC 236 for $79.99 and receive a year-long subscription to ESPN+, a $109.99 value. If you already subscribe to ESPN+, the fight costs $59.99.
UFC 236 represented a changing of the guard.
Israel “Izzy” Adesanya persevered and fought his way past Kelvin Gastelum to become UFC’s new Middleweight champion, while Dustin Poirier ended Max Holloway’s 13-fight winning streak to claim hold of the interim Lightweight Championship.
Poirier interrupted Holloway’s coronation by pummeling him with fists. And, following an outrageous display of power, Adesanya endured the grave challenge presented by Kelvin Gastelum to take hold of the Middleweight Championship.
Expect the UFC to crown Adesanya as the new face of its promotion.
Another highlight of the card occurred when Khalil Rountree dominated in a spectacular performance over Eryk Anders, which ended in a unanimous decision.
Here's how UFC 236 played out:
Main Card (ESPN+)
Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship — 1:28 a.m. ET
Max Holloway enters the fight as the heavy favorite. Despite being the man to give Holloway his first loss, Dustin Poirier is in the cage with a much different Holloway than the version he defeated in 2012.
Both fighters enter the contest on winning streaks, with Poirier winning his past three fights and Holloway winning his past 13. But the story of round one was the power of Poirier, whose boxing ability did a number of Holloway.
The second round started in Holloway’s favor, but Poirier drastically changed that narrative when his power shots overwhelmed Holloway to end the round.
Holloway regained control in the third round, and successfully exhausted Poirier by the fourth. Even with a serious gash on his forehead, Holloway had full control of the fight after four rounds.
Neither could gain full advantage, although both had stretches that their stunned. The fight went the decision and was decided by the judges’ scorecard, which awarded the fight by unanimous decision to Dustin Poirier.
An indelible image of the fight will remain the bloodsoaked face of Holloway, but the lasting memory will be Dustin Poirier winning the interim Lightweight Championship. His nonstop strikes help carve up Holloway, and gave him the final edge in scoring.
Next up for Poirier is a date with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Israel “Izzy” Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum by unanimous decision for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship — 12:27 a.m. ET
Striking savant Izzy Adesanya (16-0) is the favorite in this matchup, and 13 of his 16 wins have been by knockout.
Kelvin Gastelum wants to put a halting stop to the Adesanya hype train, which is only going to blow up even more with a title win in this fight. Gastelum can knock out anyone in the cage, Adesanya included, and this clash of styles should be extremely compelling. Two hungry fighters each looking for gold? Buckle up.
Gastelum tagged Adesanya with his right hand and then a left hook, which allowed him to control the opening round. Adesanya’s lightning quick speed cut him inches ahead of Gastelum’s brutal blows.
The second round was simply incredible. Gastelum bordered on recklessness, and Adesanya capitalized by showing off his technical and creative striking ability, including an elbow to the head of Gastelum. The fight highlighted the heart needed to be a champion in the UFC.
Gastelum gives up eight-and-a-half inches to Adesanya, but his timing and footwork was impeccable through the first round. Adesanya dictated the engagements in the second and third rounds, and reach became a critical issue for Gastelum. A late takedown in the second round was another lost opportunity for Gastelum, who could not contain Adesanya for any sustained offense. Three rounds in, and this remains a fight either man can win.
Gastelum came out swinging to open round four, and the fight continued to intensify. The unrelenting power of Kelvin Gastelum was nearly too much for Adesanya in that round, and the final five minutes will now determine the new UFC Middleweight champion.
Adesanya forced momentum back in his corner in the fifth round, but both men showed an incredible amount of heart—Adesanya for regaining control of the fight, and Gastelum mesmerized the crowd with his ability to withstand an outrageous offensive display from Adesanya.
The fifth round served as the clincher for Adesanya as he pursues his first UFC title, and Gastelum immediately shook hands with the victor.
“I was ready for war,” Adesanya told Joe Rogan after the fight. “I was willing to die.”
The inevitable showdown between Adesanya and Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title will be appointment-viewing.
Khalil Rountree defeated Eryk Anders by unanimous decision (light heavyweight) — 11:35 p.m. ET
Grant and Jouban combined for a lackluster fight, but this matchup should be tremendous and nonstop chaos in the cage.
Vegas prefers Anders in this bout, placing him as the favorite at -195. But the story of the opening round was Rountree’s kicks, which left Anders completely flustered—and his right leg in serious pain. The entire first round belonged to Rountree.
Round two was utter domination for Rountree. He completely outclassed Anders in terms of speed, strength, and precision. Rountree has knocked Anders down four separate times, but Anders is unwilling to quit. For his own sake, the fight should be stopped.
Incredibly, Anders is still standing for a third round. And he somehow even finished the fight. But UFC 236 was all about maximizing the potential of Khalil Rountree, who delivered 32 leg strikes and four knockdowns. Significant strikes were completely one-sided, with Rountree ahead, 71-19.
Rountree’s trip to Thailand to fine tune his craft clearly paid off.
After the light heavyweight bout, Rich Franklin was announced as the newest inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame. The former UFC Middleweight Champion will enter the Pioneer Wing on July 5.
Dwight Grant defeats Alan Jouban by split decision (welterweight) — 11:07 p.m. ET
This fight represents a tremendous opportunity for the 34-year-old Dwight Grant, who has incredible knockout power and enters as a slight favorite.
Southpaw Alan Jouban, who is very confident about his chances in this fight, gets the crowd fired up by entering the cage to Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
Grant kept up with Jouban’s pacing in the opening round, and a critical piece of this fight will be seeing who can adjust first.
Grant opened the second round by landing shots directly on Jouban’s cranium. But the overall pace has slowed considerably, and the crowd has even hit this match with some a heavy dose of boos. Ten minutes in, and neither fighter has stood out.
There will be no knockout or bonus for Jouban tonight. The fight goes the distance, with Jouban finally standing out over the final twenty seconds. I still Grant winning the fight based off the first round.
Grant is the winner by split decision. Jouban was horrified by the decision, but he certainly did not do nearly enough in the cage to expect that fight to be a victory.
Next up: Eryk Anders vs. Khalil Rountree
Nikita Krylov forces Ovince Saint Preux to tap out (light heavyweight) — 10:31 p.m. ET
Both fighters are coming off a loss, so this is a critical fight. Their first fight, won by Saint Preux in 2014 at UFC 171, lasted only 89 seconds.
At the end of the first round, Krylov is looking to prove how much he has evolved as a fighter (but every time I hear Ukraine, I think of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Newman play Risk). Saint Preux, who at 36 is nine years older than than the 27-year-old Krylov, looks exhausted after the first round.
Round two has belonged to Krylov, who appears to be setting up Saint Preux for a choke out—which is exactly what happens. Five years after losing to Saint Preux in only 89 seconds, Krylov brings home some redemption with a submission victory at UFC 236. The win elevates Krylov (who has now won five of his last six fights) into the top 15 fighters in the light heavyweight division.
Ukraine not weak, Ukraine not weak at all.
Main Event Preview
It's almost time for UFC 236 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier are co-headlining the pay-per-view event's main card alongside Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum, with both bouts to decide the interim championships.
The reigning featherweight champion Holloway is moving up a class to fight Poirier for the 155-pound interim championship. In his UFC debut, Poirier handed Holloway the first loss of his career when they last fought in 2012 at UFC 143. The lightweight title is on the line with previous champion Khabib Nurmagomedov suspended for jumping out of the octagon and fighting spectators after he defeated Conor McGregor by technical knockout in October.
Holloway is listed at 5'11" and holds a 20-3 record, while the 5'9" southpaw Poirier is 24-5. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET.
Preliminary Card (ESPN)
Khalid Taha knocked out Boston Salmon in 25 seconds (bantamweight)
Max Griffin defeated Zelim Imadaev by majority decision (welterweight)
Alexandre Pantoja defeated Wilson Reis by TKO (flyweight)
Matt Frevola defeated Jalin Turner by unanimous decision (lightweight)
Early Prelim Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Brandon Davis choked out Randy Costa (bantamweight)
Poliana Botelho defeated Lauren Mueller by unanimous decision (women’s flyweight)
Montel Jackson defeated Andre Soukhamthath by unanimous decision (bantamweight)
Belal Muhammed defeated Curtis Millender by unanimous decision (welterweight)