Kelvin Gastelum is still basking in the whirlwind.
Gastelum went from the youngest competitor in The Ultimate Fighter history to being the last pick who upset his way to the TUF 17 season title.
Gastelum, who fought for Team Sonnen, earned an impressive split decision victory over Uriah Hall in the TUF 17 finale, an upset of heroic proportion, especially when factoring the hype train behind Hall. Now Gastelum, the 21-years-old is adjusting to a new life.
On Wednesday night on BJ.PENN.com radio, Gastelum talked about being a TUF champion.
“Life has changed dramatically,” he said. “I have a bunch of people asking for pictures and autographs and people coming up and congratulating me. It’s pretty exciting.”
Gastelum said he knew he would be one of the last fighters picked, he just hoped it would be for the right team.
“In the fight to get into the house I didn’t really perform so I was expecting to be one of the last picks,” he said. “Being picked last was kind of stressful. I was like, I hope Chael picks me, I hope Chael picks me and finally I was picked last. I didn’t know if I was going to win but I knew I was going to fight my heart out and see how it turned out.”
Gastelum said the camaraderie around the TUF 17 house was solid and on the first day the fighters tried to cook, we all ate together and got to know each other. There was one fighter in particular who changed his stripes from those first few days in the house.
“Jimmy Quinlan, in the first week, kinda came across as a smart ass,” Gastelum said. “I didn’t like him that much. As I got to know him after the next couple of weeks he was the guy I was hanging out the most.”
Gastelum got to witness to UFC 159 where the two coaches, Jon Jones and Sonnen, fought in the main event with Jones winning convincingly.
“I was there, front row, and I thought they stopped it a little too early,” he said. “It’s a world title fight. They shouldn’t stop it that soon.”
Gastelum mentioned that he has messaged Sonnen and is going to visit camp up Oregon but nothing is certain on a permanent move.
Gastelum is prepared to switch divisions. He was fighting middleweight on TUF 17 but feels he will be even more dangerous at welterweight.
“I feel that I would be a lot stronger,” he said. “Uriah felt strong and I couldn’t control him like I wanted to control him. I am going to have to eat right and I hate it. I like my burgers and pizza. But my mentality is that I’m in the UFC, I’m a pro and I’m going to do what I need to do to make the weight.”
He said he had nothing concrete as far as an upcoming fight though fighting in two or three months would be ideal.
And as far as an opponent?
“I fight pretty much anybody,” Gastelum said. “I don’t have anyone on the radar. I want to be given the chance to build my way up.
One thing for certain, don’t expect Gastelum to shock fans with outrageous outbursts or laying the verbal smack down on his next opponent.
“I don’t do the Chael Sonnen call-outs. He’s a pro at it and makes it look good. You could say that I’m more the family/religious type. I’ve always been real close to my family, my mom and my sister but if I wanted to I can get mean.”
Listen to the full interview in the player below: