Israel Adesanya might have been the favourite for the oddsmakers, but Kelvin Gastelum sure made him work for the unanimous judges decision.
In the first round, Gastelum showed he wasn’t going to be outclassed in the striking department, even dropping Adesanya to the canvas after landing a solid punch. Then, as is always the way with brilliant contests, Adesanya came right back, himself rocking Gastelum in the second and having the younger man in serious trouble.
The pattern continued through the third and fourth, with both men alternating dominant rounds until Adesanya came on strong in the last round coming seconds away from finishing the exhausted Gastelum before the bell called an end to proceedings.
“I was ready for a 5-round war, but it is not what I expected,” Adesanya said after the fight. “I have to take a shower to gather my thoughts, re-watch the fight before I say too much about the fight, but what I will say is Kelvin did well to land the jab. That was unexpected and I was surprised to let him get that jab. I was able to touch him whenever I wanted. You need fights like that in your back pocket, but like I’ve always said destiny is an understatement – the next fight… I will make it memorable.”
Adesanya is now the interim middleweight champion, and will go on to fight Robert Whittaker later on this year.