Israel Adesanya is unquestionably known for his highlight reel striking and at times brash persona. But, “The Last Style Bender” can also provide compelling, technical takes on fights as well.
Since the Nigerian born fighter arrived in the UFC, Adesanya has largely lived up to the hype surrounding his fighting abilities. After all, the vaunted kickboxer has gone 5-0 in the Octagon, he’s taken out Derken Brunson, outscored longtime contender Brad Tavares, and most recently, he outduelled the legendary Anderson Silva. Not only that, but the 29-year-old, New Zealand resident has drawn plenty of attention for his abilities on the mic.
Well, recently it was announced that Adesanya is going to face Kelvin Gastelum for an interim middleweight title at UFC 236, April 13th. It’s an interesting match-up, but if for some reason you’re not hyped for the bout, perhaps Adesanya’s take on Gastelum might change your mind. While speaking to Luke Thomas recently on “The MMA Hour”, Adesanya had this to say about the heavy-handed fighter (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Kelvin Gastelum, there’s many ways I can classify his style,” Adesanya said. “I like it. He’s improved. One thing I can say is that he’s improved over his run in the UFC from The Ultimate fighter and now being a contender. But his style? It’s very Mexican. You have the Mexican style of boxing, and he has a Mexican style of MMA, like smart Mexican style. He doesn’t just brawl or look for wars. He’s calculated when he approaches the game.”
“…Boxing heavy, he likes to use his hands. His kicks? He’s not so good with kicks. Maybe he could get better on low kicks. A good tip for Kelvin: work on your low kicks,” Adesanya said. “But, yeah, boxing heavy, Lucha Libre, I know he can wrestle. He’s probably some NCAA something-something from America. He’s a 10th planet black belt, I’m pretty sure.
“But yeah, the Mexican style, the way he moves, the way he feints, he even has a bit of a karate thing too lately. Maybe that’s how he starts off. I know it’s him and [UFC flyweight champion Henry] Cejudo because they’re buddy buddy, so they might have some secret weapon they’re dong with some karate or taekwondo or whatever because of the way they stand and start the fight…It’s a good puzzle to solve and I can’t wait. This is what I do, I solve puzzles every single time.”
Now sure, some fans get pumped for a fight if there’s a big beef and lots of insults flying around, and who knows? Maybe that will happen as UFC 236 approaches. But, as Adesanya alluded to above, it’s going to be fascinating to see how each man approaches the upcoming fight. Will Gastelum look to trade with the heralded striker? Or attempt to go the wrestling route? Does he need to do the latter in order to win? Or can he tag Adesanya with one of his booming lefts?