Kelvin Gastelum has the biggest fight of his life coming up against the former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Although it has been years since Silva has been champion, Gastelum says that Silva is the greatest of all time and was surprised that “The Spider” accepted the fight against him at UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro.
“I thought it was going to be a problem,” Gastelum told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour on Monday (transcribed by Dave Doyle for MMA Fighting). “I thought he wasn’t going to sign, next thing I know he’s posting this video of him signing it and waving his head like a weirdo.”
Gastelum is still in disbelief that the fight is going to take place due to Silva’s history and legacy and compares him to a legendary boxing icon.
“This is still something that I have to let sink in,” Gastelum said. “Over the next few months I’m going to have to really convince myself it’s happening. It’s kind of a big deal. I thought the Vitor Belfort fight was bigger. This was a whole ‘nother level. I’m fighting the greatest of all-time, it’s like fighting Mike Tyson.”
Coming off a first-round TKO win over another legend in Vitor Belfort, Gastelum is looking to repeat what he was able to do earlier this month and is thankful that he has another high-profile fight coming.
“I didn’t think he was actually going to take the fight,” Gastelum said of Silva. “But I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to be able to fight him. He’s the greatest of all-time, and he deserves all the respect in the world, but once that cage door closes, I expect the same result I did with Vitor as well.”
Although Silva has had trouble finding wins in the past few years, the former champ is coming off a controversial unanimous decision win over Derek Brunson. Gastelum says he agreed with the outcome of that fight.
“Not a lot happened but the stuff that did happen he countered well, defended well, he had good offense, good defense, displayed his game,” Gastelum said. “It was very nice to watch, he’s a very complete fighter, more than any other fighter I’ve faced. It’s going to be a difficult task. … I was in agreeance with the [decision]. I think Derek Brunson showed him a little too much respect inside the Octagon. Absolutely he deserves that respect, but once the cage door closes man, it’s gotta be your world.”
What is your prediction for the fight between Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum? Let us know in the comment section!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/27/2017.