Should Adesanya get a title shot over Gastelum? MMASucka Staff Weighs in

Adesanya
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 03: A general view is seen as Robert Whittaker of Australia, UFC middleweight champion (L) Kelvin Gastelum of the USA and Israel Adesanya of New Zealand (R) listen to David Shaw, UFC Senior Vice President International and Content speak to media during a UFC press conference at Melbourne Arena on December 03, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

The UFC middleweight division was left in a strange position following UFC 234. After UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was ruled out of the main event due to an injury, UFC middleweights Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva were then moved up to the main event of the night in Melbourne, Australia.

The fight ended by Adesanya defeating Silva via unanimous decision. Following that, many began to wonder what the intriguing fight between Adesanya and Whittaker could look like. There’s just one problem: Kelvin Gastelum was next set to fight Whittaker before the champion’s injury, and Adesanya getting the title shot would mean him leap-frogging Gastelum. Gastelum is currently ranked No. 4 in the middleweight division, with Adesanya moving up to No. 5.

Should Israel Adesanya get Middleweight title shot over Kelvin Gastelum?

The MMASucka Staff weighs in:

Michael DeSantis:

I still believe Kelvin Gastelum is next in line for the middleweight title shot once Robert Whittaker is healthy, for a few reasons. Gastelum did everything that was expected of him on fight week: he showed up, made weight, and was ready to fight. He shouldn’t lose his title shot for something that happened through no fault of his own. In addition to that, Gastelum still has the more impressive resume than Israel Adesanya. Wins over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and former champion Michael Bisping outweigh Adesanya’s wins over Derek Brunson and 2019 Anderson Silva.

While I feel that “The Last Stylebender” is a future UFC middleweight champ, it’s still Gastelum’s turn for a crack at Whittaker. I wouldn’t be opposed if Adesanya waited for a shot at the winner of those two, but I would also like to see him get a win over someone like Chris Weidman or Souza, who both pose questions on how Adesanya would deal with an elite grappler.

Brian Gerson:

No, Israel Adesanya should not receive a title shot over Kelvin Gastelum. Although Adensanya put on an impressive performance in the main event of UFC 234 against legend Anderson Silva, it can’t put him over the No. 1 contender.

While Adesanya did knock off a former champion by winning all three rounds in the main event, the presence of the two tall and lengthy middleweights in the main event was due to Whittaker withdrawing. As it is well known, Robert Whittaker withdrew from UFC 234 with injury complications, and that is not the fault of Gastelum. Gastelum did everything and more a promotional organization such as the UFC could ask for. He did not brashly sell the PPV like the UFC would have loved to see, but he earned the opportunity.

Gastelum defeated a list of contenders to get himself in the upper ranks of the division. Once there, he starched former champion Michael Bisping inside one round. After that, Gastelum joined the circus that is The Ultimate Fighter reality series as a coach opposite Whittaker. Doing the reality series provides the UFC with marketing material beyond what is needed. Despite other obvious factors such as longevity among others, the UFC shouldn’t place its shiny new toy (Adesanya) ahead of someone who did what was asked of him outside the cage.

Omar Villagrana:

Yes. Adesanya should be next in line to face middleweight champion Whittaker after his win over Silva. In what was Adesanya’s first PPV main event, he ended the night with a huge win over Anderson Silva. Not only did Adesanya exchange with Silva, but his skills were in full effect that night for three rounds. Had the fight been five rounds, he may have finished Silva. So this may not even have been a debate.

‘The Last Stylebender’ is undefeated with a record of 16-0. Whittaker, meanwhile, is undefeated at middleweight with a record of 8-0 in the UFC. This is a fight the fans would love to see. While Gastelum is the rightful No. 1 contender at the moment, I believe now is the time to cash in on a UFC title fight between Whittaker and Adesanya.

Connor Deitrich:

Israel Adesanya should not get a title shot before Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum was prepared, made weight, and was ready to go at UFC 234. A freak injury to the champion should not result in anyone losing a shot at the title. If the UFC would decide to make an interim title, I think Gastelum should fight Adesanya. But there’s no scenario where the next middleweight title fight shouldn’t involve Kelvin Gastelum.

Patrick Auger:

No, Israel Adesanya does not deserve a title shot over Kelvin Gastelum. The notion that the Adesanya vs. Silva fight was a legitimate No. 1-contender match is untenable, especially given that Silva would have been challenging for the belt with a 2-4-1 record in his last seven had he won the contest. What ultimately ended up being the main event for UFC 234 was nothing more than a way to fast track Adesanya to a greater level of star power.

Given that Gastelum has a better body of work at 185 lbs., it doesn’t make sense for him to be penalized because of something out of his control. Re-book Whittaker vs. Gastelum, and do Jacare vs. Adesanya for a true No. 1-contender fight.

Mitch Banuelos:

While Adesanya has been on fire and looked great ever since entering the UFC, he’ll need a win over a top-five fighter to jump Kelvin Gastelum for a title shot. The closest he’s gotten was against top-10 fighter Derek Brunson, who he made quick work of at UFC 217. His first two UFC fights came against Rob Wilkinson and Marvin Vettori. He handled Wilkinson, finishing him in two rounds, but seemed to struggle with Vettori, winning by split decision. People began to doubt Adesanya’s star power. He was quick to silence the doubts in his next fight as he dominated Brad Tavares in his first main event. This would earn him a fight with Anderson Silva.

The two put on a fun fight with Adesanya getting the decision win. The fight was promised as a No. 1-contender fight, but Gastelum still deserves his shot before anyone else due to the cancellation. After a decent run at welterweight, Gastelum decided to move up to middleweight in 2016. His debut came against Tim Kennedy, who he finished in the third round. His next three fights came against former UFC middleweight champions. The first of those was against Vitor Belfort, who he originally finished in one round, but after a positive test for a marijuana metabolite, it was overturned to a no-contest.

His next fight is his only loss at middleweight. Chris Weidman finished him with a third-round submission in their main event fight in New York. After the loss, Gastelum won two straight, the first being a KO win over Michael Bisping. He then took a split decision win over “Jacare” Souza in Brazil. While Weidman still holds the win over Gastelum, inactivity and a loss to “Jacare” has dropped Weidman’s title stock, making Gastelum the true No. 1-contender at the moment.

Whittaker’s Return

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is targeting a summer return in four months. He could return as soon as UFC 238, which takes place on June 8, 2019 in Chicago at the United Center.

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