One of if not The Ultimate Fighter’s biggest underdog in the show’s history has blossomed into one of the finest mixed martial artists in the world today. The young twenty-one year old at the time, Kelvin Gastelum wasn’t expected to make it very far on his season(17) of TUF but ended up winning the whole thing. Fast forward five years and he’s one of the very best young talents in the game.
Gastelum was a career middleweight until he won TUF 17 where he would go on to drop to welterweight afterward before winning some big fights but having weight troubles at the same time. He now finds himself back at 185-pounds and potentially just one win away from his first ever UFC title shot.
But the case could have been different as Gastelum told Joey Diaz on his The Church of What’s Happening Now podcast that he was considering giving 170 another go.
“Nobody knows about it, but I was considering going down to 170 pounds. They even considered having me fight at 170 pounds. They wanted me to fight for the main event in Chile. Nobody knows about it.
We considered this with my manager for two weeks. We couldn’t make a decision. We hesitated because I had an attitude in my head, ‘Give me the strongest guy at 170, a guy who will let me fight for gold. Or the same guy at 185-pounds.’
It turned out, however, that they wanted me to fight with someone who is not even in the top five. I wanted someone from the top five, someone who would allow me to fight for the belt, but they didn’t want to give me someone like that. They gave me a guy from the top 15. Well, that’s the risk, I thought, because in real terms, I’m two or three fights from the title shot at 170. And at 185-pounds I will win one fight or two and I have a title shot.”
UFC Fight Night 129 in Santiago, Chile on May 19th has yet to have a main event announced but the most likely fighter to headline that event is Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio who indeed fits the description that Gastelum gave.
Instead, Gastelum decided to stick with middleweight where he was granted the biggest fight of his career when he takes on perennial top 5 ranked 185er, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza at UFC 224 on May 12th.
Gastelum also mentioned on the podcast that he’s currently walking around at 205-pounds so perhaps it’s just a good idea regardless of opponents to stay at 185. What do you think?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/22/2018