Gastleum’s Win over Hall Likely Better Outcome for the UFC
This past Saturday we saw the close of one of the best, most entertaining seasons of The Ultimate Fighter take place in Las Vegas, Nevada at the TUF 17 Finale. On that card we saw several things that would excite fight fans in the moment and for the future. For example, we saw Cat Zingano defeat Miesha Tate in a back and forth battle that earned both women Fight of the Night honors and won Zingano a spot as the coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter and a title fight opposite current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. That fight alone made the card worth watching, in my eyes. However, that still wasn’t the most surprising or shaking fight that took place. Rather, the fight between the TUF 17 finalists made the biggest impact overall. Here’s why:
The show was dominated by striker and heavy favorite, Uriah Hall. Hall ran through the competition putting each of his opponents in the hospital on his way to the finals. The UFC, along with other brands such as NOS Energy Drinks, have already banked on Hall being a star in the sport. No one expected Hall to even be touched throughout the competition. But there is always that underdog in every tournament that makes a surge and proves all the naysayers wrong. In this case we’re talking about Kelvin Gastelum.
Gastelum, who was the youngest competitor to ever compete in the TUF tourney, came into this weekend’s bout against Hall as a huge underdog. He didn’t let the hype surrounding Hall phase him one bit. Instead, he came in like a bulldog and pressed Hall from start to finish. He fought a perfect fight and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in TUF history. So what does this mean for Hall, the UFC, and new-born star Kelvin Gastelum?
First, most people would think that the UFC would view this as a bad thing. They were hoping to birth an immediate contender from the show in Hall but a loss to Gastelum drops his ranking quite a bit. This is not to say the outcome of the fight screwed up everything the UFC had planned. Now, instead of having a star born in Hall the UFC has two stars to work with from season 17. Gastelum didn’t get lucky in winning the show…he put on several remarkable performances to clinch the TUF title. In other words, it was no fluke that he walked away as the TUF Champion. Plus, Gastelum is young and is still growing and maturing as a fighter. This is a huge plus for the UFC. Here is another young, talented prospect that the UFC can groom into a future contender. His versatility (he won a fight on the show by KO, submission, and decision) and the room he still has to grow make him one of the brightest stars to ever come off of the show. And to top it all off Gastelum was quoted this week saying that he, after winning TUF 17 at middleweight (185 lbs.), would like to make the drop to welterweight (170 lbs.) to see if it better suits him. Danger, danger UFC welterweights!
As for Hall, his future is still bright. I don’t think the loss to Gastelum hurt him too much. And to be honest, Hall probably wins that fight 7 out of 10 times. Last Saturday just wasn’t his night. Regardless, the kid is still a dynamo with amazing skills and the heart to become a champion. Although the loss exposed his game a little he is still a wicked matchup for many of the middleweights in the UFC. Don’t lose faith in Uriah Hall. He’ll be back stronger and better, guaranteed.
Keep your eyes on both of these rising MMA stars, fight fans. We may be watching the growth of eventual title contenders. A few wins in a row undoubtedly solidifies either fighter’s legitimacy and could very well put them in line for title contention.
So is the UFC upset that their season 17 superstar was upset by, god forbid, another wrestler? Absolutely not. Instead, UFC brass are likely jumping with joy like kids that just scored two gumballs from the machine with one turn of a knob. I like to call that a daily-double.