Last month, the UFC made its long-awaited debut in New York with UFC 205. To celebrate the occasion, the organization stacked the card with high profile fights.
One of the most exciting of these scheduled fights was one between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Kelvin Gastelum, which was to occur at welterweight. When Gastelum was so over weight for the bout that he didn’t even bother stepping on the scale to weigh in, however, it was scrapped and removed from the card.
Given that this was not the first time Gastelum had missed the welterweight cap, he was ostracized from the division and sent north to middleweight. He made his middleweight return on the main card of UFC 206 on Saturday night in Toronto. He did so against a legitimate top-10 foe in Tim Kennedy, replacing Kennedy’s original opponent, Rashad Evans. Despite a slow start, Gastelum ultimately wore his foe down to an impressive, third-round KO.
In the wake of his impressive defeat of Kennedy, Gastelum sent a wave of disappointment through the MMA community, expressing his intention to return to the welterweight division. During his post-fight press conference, however, Gastelum acknowledged that he would stay at middleweight for the right fights – particularly a scrap with MMA legend Vitor Belfort in Brazil.
“I think if I’m offered a fight that interests me at 185, I don’t see why I wouldn’t stay here, but I think 170 is my optimum weight class,” Gastelum told the media at the post-fight presser. “I took this fight as a favor for the UFC. I knew they needed a replacement for Rashad Evans, so I stepped in, and I heard they need another replacement in Brazil with Vitor Belfort, so if they want to make that happen, then I’ll do it. I’m willing to step up and do that as well.”
Considering how good Gastelum looked at middleweight on Saturday – and the repeated difficulty he’s had making the welterweight divisions 170-pound cap – this is probably good news. Would you be interested in a Gastelum vs. Belfort scrap? Sound off, PENN Nation!