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Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum targeted for interim title fight at UFC 236

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

An interim middleweight title fight is in the works for UFC 236.

Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will square off at UFC 236 on April 13 at a venue to be determined. MMA Fighting confirmed an initial report Tuesday by ESPN.

The UFC has decided on a creating an interim championship while champion Robert Whittaker convalesces from his recent surgery for a hernia and collapsed bowel. Whittaker underwent surgery just hours before he was scheduled to defend his title against Gastelum in the main event of UFC 234 on Feb. 9 in Melbourne, Australia.

With the Whittaker-Gastelum fight off, Adesanya’s co-main event bout against former middleweight champ Anderson Silva was bumped up to the headline spot. “The Last Style Bender” won a unanimous decision in an entertaining fight, which put him at 16-0 and gave him five wins in the year since he’s joined the UFC.

Gastelum (15-3, 1 NC), meanwhile, had worked his way into title contender position off back-to-back wins over a pair of former world champions with a knockout of former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and a decision over former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Ronaldo Souza.

Gastelum, for his part, noted on Twitter that April 13 marks the sixth anniversary of the victory which launched his UFC career, his split decision over Uriah Hall in the TUF 17 Finale which at the time was viewed as a major upset.

Last week, Whittaker’s agent indicated his client is on a timetable in which he hopes to return to the cage sometime over the summer.

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