Riding high on impressive defeats of former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Kelvin Gastelum feels he’s earned the next shot at reigning UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker. Unfortunately, he feels that Whittaker is attempting to steer clear of the matchup.
“I know that he’s been offered the fight against me twice and he has not been wanting to fight me,” Gastelum said on a recent episode of The MMA Hour (transcribed by Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting). “And I think that’s for good reason. I think I give him the most difficult time if we step in the cage and I think he knows that. In my opinion, I match up horribly for him.”
Gastelum, of course, is not the only man with claim to a UFC middleweight title shot. Chris Weidman, the last man he lost to, is also gunning for the opportunity.
While Weidman makes some strong arguments for the next shot, Gastelum feels he should be given priority.
“I don’t know how he feels he deserves it,” Gastelum said of Weidman. “He’s been injured, he’s been out, unfortunately. But that’s just the way it goes. He says he’s the most decorated fighter, but that’s in the past, man. We’re talking about now. Active fighters, fighters who are winning fights and fighting in the big fights, they should be rewarded. And that should be me.”
“Chris Weidman thinks that he should get the shot over me?” Gastelum added. “I was ranked ninth when he fought me. He was coming off a three-fight skid. Since we fought, I’ve fought two top-five guys, two former champions.”
Unfortunately for Kelvin Gastelum, Whittaker’s team seems to be leaning toward Weidman for his next fight — perhaps in New York City this November.
“Madison Square Garden is a possibility,” Whittaker’s manager Titus Day told The Daily Telegraph of Whittaker’s next fight, insisting Whittaker’s broken hand should be healed by November. “Rob’s the middleweight champ and his last two fights have been wars. So if his hand heals up as quickly as we’re hoping, we would definitely push for him to compete at the greatest fight arena in the world. And Chris Weidman, as the former champ, would be a perfect rival for that fight.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/2/2018.