Kelvin Gastelum has won the middleweight title shot sweepstakes, sprinting ahead of his fellow middleweight contenders in the race to the next crack at divisional champion Robert Whittaker. Gastelum will battle Whittaker sometime later this year, but first, the pair will serve as the coaches of the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
For Gastelum, Whittaker represents and undeniably tough test. That said, Gastelum wonders if Whittaker might be a different fighter after his last two bouts, a pair of absolute wars with the fearsome Yoel Romero.
“I don’t know if he’s going to be the same fighter after these fights,” Kelvin Gastelum told the media at a scrum last week (via MMAMania). “These wars that he’s been in, it takes a toll on the body, so we’ll see how he comes out after this hand surgery.”
Whatever version of Robert Whittaker shows up, Kelvin Gastelum is thrilled to have the opportunity to fight for the title. For him, this is the culmination of a life-long journey.
“I’m excited,” he said. “This is what every fighter dreams of and hopes for. Some people wish for it and dream of it their entire lives and never get to it, and I’m here, so I couldn’t be any happier to get this opportunity.”
“I come from very humble beginnings,” he added. “To be at the top of the world for a little while means a lot. It means you’re a champion not only in the UFC, but a champion in life. You get through obstacles. I feel like life is a fight every day. So to get where I’m at, and get the belt, it just means the world. ”
Who do you think will come out on top when the cage door closes on Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/16/2018.