Kelvin Gastelum
To fight for belt in April
February 19, 2019
Gastelum will take on Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight title at UFC 236 on April 13, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
Gastelum had been scheduled to get his first middleweight title shot at UFC 234 on Feb. 10, but that fight was scrapped after Whittaker came down with a hernia on the day of the fight, which required emergency surgery. With Whittaker presumably on the shelf for over a month, Gastelum will now take on Adesanya, who picked up a decision win over Anderson Silva in the main event of that very same card. Gastelum measured up well for the matchup against Whittaker, especially given the fact that he's a former welterweight, but the size discrepancy will be much more pronounced against Adesanya. That might be enough to swing betting lines at the time of weigh-ins, as Adesanya is seven inches taller with a nine-inch reach advantage. This has the makings of a fan-friendly fight, as neither combatant has been particularly interested in wrestling of late. Gastelum does have the skills as a former high school state champion, however. He would be wise to bring them back for this fight, as Adesanya has yet to be truly tested by a wrestler, and it would be one way for Gastelum to help close the distance. He's most comfortable on the feet within boxing range, but if Adesanya fights smart, the opportunities to get there will be few and far between.
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Title shot cancelled
February 9, 2019
Gastelum's title shot against Robert Whittaker was cancelled Saturday due to Whittaker suffering a hernia in his abdomen, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
With the cancellation happening so soon before the fight was supposed to occur, Gastelum will be forced to miss the card entirely. It's not yet clear how long Whittaker will be out for and when the pair could possibly reschedule their fight.
Title shot to come in February
November 13, 2018
Gastelum will face Robert Whittaker for a shot at the middleweight title at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia on Feb. 10, reports.
Gastelum will have to travel to his opponent's home country for his shot at the belt. The matchup has been known for several months, though the fight itself has been delayed by Whittaker's hand surgery and the duo's coaching duties for season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter. Gastelum is expected to enter as the underdog, as he gives up three inches of height and two inches of reach to his opponent.
Next up for middleweight title shot
July 7, 2018
Gastelum will take on Robert Whittaker for the UFC Middleweight Championship after the duo coaches season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter, reports.
Gastelum was the winner of TUF 17 as a welterweight back in 2013, but was forced to move up to middleweight after having multiple problems making the 170-pound limit. He's 4-1 since making the move, with the only time a size disadvantage was significant being a loss to Chris Weidman. This time around, he'll concede three inches in height and two inches in reach to Whittaker, who is fresh off defending his middleweight title against Yoel Romero. Whittaker suffered a hand injury in that fight that ultimately required surgery, but he's expected to be ready by the time the taping of the show concludes. The UFC has yet to announce a date and location for the event, but when they do, look for Gastelum to open up as the betting underdog. Gastelum may have slightly faster hands, but he has yet to face a striker as powerful as Whittaker since moving up to middleweight, which may force him to lean on his wrestling a bit more than is typical.
Takes close split decision from Jacare Souza in Rio
May 12, 2018
Gastelum defeated Jacare Souza via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) at UFC 224 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
It didn't look good for Kelvin after Jacare dominated the entirety of Round 1, but Souza's gas tank quickly evaporated and Gastelum took full advantage. Displaying an iron chin, Kelvin ate all 54 of Jacare's significant strikes without issue, the vast majority of which would have floored any mere mortal. And although Souza's takedown attempts were of the halfhearted variety because of how tired he was, Kelvin still managed to stave them off. Gastelum is talented enough to eventually become UFC Middleweight Champion. If he doesn't ultimately reach that goal, it will almost certainly be due to his lack of size. Kelvin is smaller than virtually every 185-pounder on the UFC roster and he has to construct a game plan in which he can get inside against his bigger, longer opponents. It worked on Saturday. He isn't far off from earning a title shot.
Will face Souza in UFC 224
February 22, 2018
Gastelum will take on Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in UFC 224 on May 12 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Alexander K. Lee of reports.
Gastelum's last fight came back in November, a statement win over former middleweight champion Michael Bisping via KO (punches) at UFC Fight Night: Shanghai. The 26-year-old is now 4-1 in his UFC career, with one no-contest competing at 185 pounds. This will be the toughest matchup of Gastelum's tenure in the middleweight division, but if he pulls off a victory against the heralded submission artist, he has an excellent case for the next title shot.