Kelvin Gastelum finally getting his due despite defeat at UFC 236
At 27 years of age, Kelvin Gastelum (15-4-1) is already a fight veteran. Competing with the best in the UFC since the age of 21, he has 15 Octagon appearances to his name. Most of the time he has emerged victorious against elite opposition in exciting and impressive fashion.
For some reason he remained unpopular among fight fans. Issues with weight cuts, a drug test failure for marijuana, and the false labeling of himself as champion seemed to have rubbed fans the wrong way. But that all changed on Saturday night at UFC 236.
A Heroic Defeat
Gastelum was in perhaps the best fight of all time. Gastelum went to war with undefeated kickboxing sensation Israel Adesanya. Both men emerged from the battle battered and bruised in a grueling five round war.
A big round one had Gastelum rocking and dropping his opponent, showing the bigger man can be hit and hurt. An adjustment had Gastelum on the back foot in round two with Adesanya landing clean and often, but Gastelum showed a granite chin and massive heart. Much of the same happened in round three, before Kelvin rallied in round four. The 5’9″ Gastelum somehow managed to land a head kick on the 6’4″ Adesanya. A catastrophic error saw Gastelum shoot for a takedown when he should have finished on the feet. Gastelum looked spent by round five, on the receiving end of a rejuvenated Adesanya who looked close to the stoppage. Props to referee Marc Goddard for letting these two men see the final bell.
A truly epic fight. A deserved win for Adesanya who cemented himself as the immediate challenger to the reign of recovering champion Robert Whittaker, picking up an interim title along the way.
Kelvin Gastelum was a loser on the card, but not in reality. He emerged more popular than ever as fans, fighters and, pundits praised his valiant effort in arguably the best fight ever.
Always Been Elite
This type of popularity has been a long time coming for Kelvin Gastelum who has been competing in the UFC for six years. His resume is jam packed with big names including the likes of Uriah Hall, Rick Story, Jake Ellenberger, Nate Marquardt, Johnny Hendricks, Tim Kennedy, Michael Bisping and Jacare Souza.
With such wins, it is hard to understand why Kelvin hasn’t been a star before now.
Despite being undersized at 185 pounds, Gastelum has a whole host of KO’s to his name, and he still competes and beats the best. A victim of the UFC weight structure, he seems in limbo, unable to make 170 pounds, but undersized at 185 pounds.
Despite suffering this loss at middleweight, there is no reason for him to move down. He went a hard and super competitive five rounds with a true middleweight contender, who could be unified middleweight champion by the time 2019 is over.
The Futures Bright
The prime fighting years of UFC contender Kelvin Gastelum are in front of him. He has already achieved so much and looks certain to become a champion before his career is done.
First things first, a pay raise for Gastelum is in order. After such a grueling title fight people seemed surprised to find Gastelum only made $150,000 for his efforts. An entire career of great fights and his most recent performance, he’s certainly in a perfect place to renegotiate.
Despite falling short against Adesanya, Gastelum is still probably just one fight away from a shot at the middleweight title again. Once he heals up, the likes of Paulo Costa, Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza or Jack Hermansson await. A big win over one of these men will catapult Gastelum back into title contention.
A bright future lays ahead for Kelvin Gastelum, who’s on the precipice of becoming one of the sports elite fighters. His quality is clear for all to see and after such a long run in MMA’s number one promotion he is finally getting props for his talent, and all it took was being involved in perhaps the best fight of all time.
Make sure to follow The Scrap News (@thescrapnews) on Twitter.
Follow our writer Jordan Ellis (@JordanEllisUK).