Israel Adesanya considers Kelvin Gastelum non-factor in UFC 236 matchup: 'It's all about me'
“Kelvin’s not scared; he’s dangerous,” Adesanya told reporters, including MMA Junkie, after an open workout on Wednesday ahead of their UFC 236 interim middleweight title fight. “That’s what excites me about him. Mexicans are known for their warrior spirit. He’s going Mexican style of MMA. I’m looking to put him on the stake, as well.”
Although Gastelum professed to struggle with motivation for the fight in the first episode of “UFC 236: Embedded,” Adesanya isn’t taking his opponent lightly. But his toughest fight? That honor goes to once-dominant middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who he outpointed in February at UFC 234.
“To the younger me, (Silva) was the pinnacle of the sport,” Adesanya said. “So when I beat him, that was like, (expletive), I’m the best in the world. I already knew it, but I had to prove it to myself. So now, everything else is easy.”
Adesanya identified “three good weapons” that Gastelum uses to get ahead and said they could all be nullified by a stiff jab.
“It’s all about me and how I move in this fight,” Adesanya said. “It’s not really about him. He can do what he wants to do, but I’m going to make him do what I want to do.”
“Itchy knuckles” prompted Adesanya to cut short a vacation and get back to work for his fifth fight inside one year. Despite his grueling schedule, he imagines being a far more active champion than the current one, Robert Whittaker, who fought only once in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Adesanya reiterated his opinion that Whittaker’s absence is bad for the division, and he wants to cut a new figure.
“If you can’t show up to work,” Adesanya said. “That’s why I said after the last one, ‘C’mon, man, just let go of the belt.’ If I was in his situation, cool, take the belt, because I know I’m going to get it back. That’s how confident I am. He’s not that confident, so he felt like, ‘Oh, I’m going to cry about it.’
“I don’t care about him. Right now, it’s all about Kelvin.”
And if there’s any extra motivation, Adesanya could be the 10th fighter to win a UFC title with an undefeated record.
“I like numbers – numbers games,” Adesanya told MMA Junkie. “I’m going to keep that in my book. That’s cool.”