For the first time in over two years, the UFC returns to Atlanta and brings with it two pivotal title fights, as reigning featherweight champion and No. 4-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world Max Holloway moves up in weight to attempt to become the fourth athlete to hold two UFC belts at the same time when he takes on No. 3-ranked lightweight contender Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC lightweight crown. Also, top middleweight contenders clash for the interim 185-pound belt as No. 4-ranked Kelvin Gastelum and No. 5-ranked Israel Adesanya vie for their first gold strap. UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 takes place Saturday, April 13 at the all-new State Farm Arena.
After dominating 13 opponents in a row at featherweight, reigning champion Holloway (20-3, fighting out of Waianae, Hawaii) moves up in weight for the first time in his career, as he chases the top of the pound-for-pound rankings by joining Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes as the only athletes to hold two UFC belts at the same time. During his run at featherweight, Holloway finished former long-time featherweight champion Jose Aldo twice, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, and previously undefeated challenger Brian Ortega. Now, Holloway looks to avenge the first loss of his professional career by being only the second man to defeat Poirier in the last four years.
Poirier (24-5, 1 NC fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla.) aims to capitalize on the best run of his UFC tenure, as he looks to capture his first UFC title by proving his 2012 win over Holloway was no fluke. With his last four wins all earning him post-fight bonuses, Poirier has established himself as one of the most dangerous and entertaining competitors in arguably the deepest division in UFC. With his most recent stoppage wins coming over former lightweight champions Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis, as well as durable top-contender Justin Gaethje, Poirier is confident that he has what it takes to stop Holloway from joining the ranks of double champions.
Six years to the day that he became The Ultimate Fighter: 17 middleweight champion Gastelum (16-3, 1 NC fighting out of Yuma, Ariz., by way of Huntington Beach, Calif.) is set to compete for the first UFC title of his career. Previously scheduled to face current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 234 in February before Whittaker was forced to withdraw due to illness, Gastelum now looks to further cement his status in the division by becoming the only man to defeat fellow top-contender Adesanya. Coming off impressive wins over former middleweight champion Michael Bisping and No. 3-ranked contender Jacare Souza, Gastelum believes that the time is now for him to prove that he is the best middleweight in the world.
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One of the fastest-rising prospects in UFC history, Adesanya (16-0, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand) is fresh off an impressive victory over legendary former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and is now set to compete for his first title just over a year after joining the promotion. A multiple-time kickboxing champion with a reported record of 75-4, Adesanya is one of the highest-level strikers to ever compete in the Octagon, as evidenced by 13 of his 16 MMA wins coming via KO. Adesanya is now poised on the break of superstardom and intends to show that he is as good as he says by becoming the first person in history to KO Gastelum.
Additional bouts on the card include:
Former light heavyweight title challenger and No. 12-ranked contender Ovince Saint Preux (23-12, fighting out of Knoxville, Tenn.) looks to bounce back into the win column against Ukrainian prospect Nikita Krylov (25-6, fighting out of Donetsk, Ukraine). Knockout artists clash as former football player Eryk Anders (11-3, fighting out of Birmingham, Ala.) and The Ultimate Fighter veteran Khalil Rountree (8-3, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.) look to establish themselves as fighters to watch in the light heavyweight division. Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series signee Montel Jackson (7-1, fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisc.) hunts for another first-round finish against the durable Andre Soukhamthath (13-6, Lake Worth, Fla. by way of Woonsocket, R.I.). Former flyweight title challenger and current No. 5-ranked contender Wilson Reis (23-9, fighting out of San Diego, Calif.) aims to defend his rank and work his way back to another title shot by taking out No. 6-ranked contender Alexandre Pantoja (20-3, Arraial Do Cabo, Brazil). The first athlete officially signed from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Boston Salmon (6-1, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.) makes his long-anticipated UFC debut against German prospect Khalid Taha (12-2, fighting out of Dortmund, Germany).