UFC 236 predictions -- Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier: Fight card, picks, odds, lines, date
See who the experts at CBS Sports are taking for Saturday's double interim title fight showdown
There's plenty to get excited about on Saturday night in Atlanta when UFC 236 lands in the city. That's because the four fighters atop the marquee are guaranteed to bring the action in a pair of interim title bouts. Featherweight champion Max Holloway is set to make his first move up to 155 pounds when he takes on No. 3 contender Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight crown. Holloway, who comes in riding a 13-fight winning streak, has just about cleaned out the featherweight division, leading to the decision to move up in weight.
On the other hand, Poirier is finally getting his chance at gold and glory after nearly nine years with the organization. After falling short in previous chances at getting close to the belt (losing to Cub Swanson, Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson), "The Diamond" has worked his way back up the rankings and into position for a title shot with three consecutive fight night bonuses in wins over Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje.
Meanwhile in the co-main event, Israel Adesanya will face off against Kelvin Gastelum in an interim middleweight title fight that might be better on paper than either facing off against current champion Robert Whittaker.
Adesanya is coming off a less-than-stellar performance against Anderson Silva in February that led many to wonder if the rising star was ready for primetime just yet. "The Last Stylebender" has gotten a considerable push from UFC since joining the organization, boasting a main event win over Brad Tavares at the TUF Finale as well as an utter destruction of Derek Brunson at UFC 230 in November.
Gastelum, meanwhile, was scheduled to face Whittaker the same night as Adesanya took on Silva until an injury and illness forced the champ out of action. He has not fought since May 2018 when he scored a decision win over Jacare Souza. He also boasts victories over former champions Michael Bisping and Chris Weidman.
Can't get enough UFC? Subscribe to my podcast State of Combat with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon, and be sure to listen to our interview with Max Holloway leading up to UFC 236 below.
Plus, we get the return of Eryk Anders, Khalil Rountree Jr., Ovince Saint Preux and Nikita Krylov in a pair of light heavyweight bouts on the main card.
Let's take a closer look at the complete card with the latest odds from Westgate Superbook.
UFC 236 odds
Max Holloway -200
Dustin Poirier +170
Interim lightweight title
Israel Adesanya -150
Kelvin Gastelum +130
Interim middleweight title
Eryk Anders -190
Khalil Rountree Jr. +160
Alan Jouban -130
Dwight Green +110
Nikita Krylov -120
Ovince Saint Preux +100
Jalin Turner -130
Matt Frevola +110
Alexandre Pantoja -155
Wilson Reis +135
Zelim Imadaev -120
Max Griffin +100
Boston Salmon -145
Khalid Taha +125
Belal Muhammad -150
Curtis Millender +130
Montel Jackson -550
Andre Soukhamthath +400
Poliana Botelho -165
Lauren Mueller +142
|Brandon Davis -170||Randy Costa +145||Bantamweights|
With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking each of the main card fights. Here are your pick makers: Brian Campbell (combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Michael Mormile (producer), Jack Crosby (editor) and Brandon Wise (editor).
UFC 236 predictions
Holloway vs. Poirier
Adesanya vs. Gastelum
Anders vs. Rountree Jr.
Jouban vs. Green
Saint Preux vs. Kylov
Campbell on why Holloway wins: A rematch of their 2012 bout, this is about as good as it gets on the elite level in terms of an even fight between exciting strikers. But you can throw out their first meeting -- a first-round submission win by Poirier -- in terms of whether there is anything to learn from that. Holloway, who was just 20 and making his UFC debut, has grown by leaps and bounds and could find his power and stamina only increase at lightweight without having to make such a difficult weight cut. Poirier has also improved and uses angles to set up his offense as well as any other elite at 155 pounds. The difference between them, however, comes down to intangibles and vulnerability. Holloway is completely comfortable in the midst of a storm while Poirier can be lured into a brawl a bit too easily. Look for "Blessed" to make an emphatic statement in his new weight class via late stoppage.
Wise on why Poirier wins: This is about as close to even as fights get, and to be honest, these two are in my top five must-watch guys in the sport at this point given their all-action styles and aggressiveness. To see one of these guys fall on Saturday will be bittersweet, but when breaking down the measurables, I'll lean on the guy with more experience in the division, as well as somebody who we've seen rally from being rocked recently. I'll be curious to see if the gameplan goes out the window for Holloway if Poirier is able to land something big. "The Diamond" outguns his way to a decision win and possible Fight of the Year.
Campbell on why Gastelum wins: Adesanya is one of the most skilled and smartest strikers in UFC; a master at controlling distance and freezing his opponents with feints before delivering creative strikes. But the brash middleweight has rarely been tested in any form throughout his rise, which doesn't always tell the full story about a fighter's intangibles. His decision win in February against Anderson Silva created a few questions as to whether he either showed the 43-year-old legend too much respect or was too willing to let the fight go the distance. Gastelum is the perfect elite measuring stick from the standpoint that he isn't likely to outpoint Adesanya but he does bring the danger of a rocket counter left hand that can end the fight at any point. Gastelum can also wrestle and, should he be able to take the fight to the ground, could present Adesanya with challenges he hasn't yet faced. Adesanya has just about everything you would want a future star to possess. But even Hall of Fame fighters have gotten caught early in their careers and faced the kind of setbacks that define who they become. Gastelum is the perfect live underdog who could do just that via knockout.
Crosby on why Adesanya wins: Here we have a fight between two talented strikers, which generally creates the possibility for an exciting outing. The problem for Gastelum, though, is that there's a little more depth to the striking of Adesanya. When you couple the well-rounded ability of Adesanya with the confidence he gained in his last fight by going toe-to-toe and coming out on top against one of the greatest of all time in Anderson Silva, you're looking at the man who will walk out of Atlanta with the interim middleweight title on Saturday night -- (hopefully) setting up a future showdown with a fully-healthy Robert Whittaker. Adesanya: TKO3
Who wins Poirier vs. Holloway and Gastelum vs. Adesanya? And how does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks for all 13 fights at UFC 236, all from the incomparable expert who's up nearly $20,000 in MMA bets in the past year.
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