Robert Whittaker is still recovering from the hernia surgery that led to his last-minute withdrawal from UFC 234, so Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya will vie for the interim middleweight strap at UFC 236.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the booking to ESPN.com on Tuesday. UFC 236 takes place on April 13 and airs on pay-per-view. The location and venue for the event have yet to be announced. It is unclear if Gastelum vs. Adesanya will serve as the card’s headliner.
Gastelum was supposed to face Whittaker in the UFC 234 main event before the champion was forced to withdraw. “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner began his promotional tenure at welterweight but has found more success at 185 pounds. Gastelum is coming off back-to-back wins over Ronaldo Souza and Michael Bisping.
Adesanya has established himself as one of the sport’s rising stars with victories in his first 16 appearances. That includes a 5-0 mark in the UFC, where “The Last Stylebender” has earned notable wins over the likes of Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares. The Nigerian-born Kiwi took center stage at UFC 234 following Whittaker’s exit, taking a unanimous verdict over Silva in the evening’s headliner.
Whittaker was released from a Melbourne hospital last week and hopes to fight again by the summer, according to his management.