Kelvin Gastelum has repeatedly said that he hopes to return to the welterweight division, but clearly Dana White isn’t convinced that the former TUF winner can make 170.
Gastelum worked his way to a one sided, stoppage win over veteran middleweight Nate Marquardt last night, which marked the first time he had competed, since he came in 9 pounds over for a bout with welterweight Tyron Woodley. Gastelum has had issues making 170 in the past, and as a result, the UFC demanded he move to 185.
“Well, you know, I love this kid. He’s such a great fighter,” White said. “First of all, he goes in with a kid like Marquardt and stands right in the pocket with him and exchanges. His stand-up looked great tonight, but I don’t believe he can make 170. I honestly don’t believe he can make 170.
“He’s done nothing to prove he can make 170 pounds,” White added. “And when he does make 170 pounds, a) it’s dangerous, and b) it screws a lot of things up around here. He’s going to have to get serious and get a nutritionist. He had to cut to make 185 and he came in right on the nose. I am the furthest from confident that he is capable of making 170. No matter how much I like him or how much he says he can do it, I don’t believe it.”
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. It doesn’t sound like Gastelum’s going to get the green light on a fight at 170, but what if he wins another fight at 185? And then another? The 23 year-old could be top 15 ranked middleweight at that juncture.
If he loses, however, then what? He’s going to need to demonstrate to the UFC that he can make welterweight, and can do it consistently and safely. Who knows, maybe he and his management will insist that they can try doing that now, rather than later.
Since winning TUF 17 in 2013, Gastelum has gone 5-1 and holds an overall record of 11-1.