Nigerian born Mixed Martial Art fighter, Isreal 'the stylebender' Adesanya, has been crowned the new UFC interim middleweight champion after he defeated Kelvin Gastelum in an epic fight in Atlanta that left both men bloodied and battered.
Adesanya, who by virtue of his victory extended his UFC record to 6-0 and his MMA unbeaten streak to 17-0, won the bout by a 48-46 unanimous decision after five rounds.
It was a close match-up until the decisive fifth round when Isreal overpowered his opponent to score 10-8 marks on the referees scorecard to nick victory.
The Nigerian, who is based in New Zealand, dropped Gastelum multiple times in the final round as he powered to his first UFC title just 14 months after making his debut.
The 29-year-old, speaking after becoming the 2nd African to win a UFC title after Kamaru Usman became welterweight champion last month, said: "I was ready for war, I told y'all. I wanted to take him out but I was ready for war.
"I don't think about score cards, all I need is one roud. I kept on saying in my native tongue, Yoruba 'aya bi ekun'. Cause I gay a tattoo of Nigeria with a lion inside on my chest. That's the heart of a lion.
"I was willing to die. We’ve lost teammates to this game. They’re not with us anymore... But I knew I was willing to give it all and to leave it all in there.”
Isreal's victory has now set him up for a title unification bout against Australian champion, Robert Whittaker, who was forced to withdraw from a title defense earlier this year because of a hernia. He is, however, expected to return in either late summer or early fall.
The title fight co-headlined UFC 236 at State Farm Arena, Atlanta, USA.