Kelvin Gastelum could defeat a former middleweight champ at UFC Fight Night 122, and take a big step into title contention, but it sounds like a rematch with Tyron Woodley is really what he’s hoping for.
Gastelum will face Michael Bisping tomorrow in Shanghai, China, who lost the the 185 crown to Georges St-Pierre earlier this month. Although Gastelum is coming off a loss to Chris Weidman in July, he has impressed in his run at 185, and a win over a former champ would certainly make a big statement.
But, leading up to UFC FN 122, Gastelum has relayed that he still hopes to return to the welterweight division, and make a title run there. Case in point, while speaking to MMA Junkie recently, the 26 year-old said this:
“I’m a little bit salty on the Tyron Woodley fight,” Gastelum said, while referring to his 2015 bout with Woodley, which he lost via split decision, after coming in way over weight for the bout. “I’m a little hurt, still, after all these years. I want that rematch. I know I can beat him. And I know I can make the weight. I was immature, I was young, and stupid, and I feel I’ve grown from all those experiences. There’s been a lot of trial and error in my career. When I fought him, I was 23 years old. Finally, we’re putting all the experiences together, the good, the bad, and making something that actually works.”
“I’ve got to be up there in those discussions (with a win), whether I fight for the middleweight title or the welterweight title,” Gastelum said. “I’ve always had my eyes set on that welterweight title and a rematch with Tyron. (But) if I win this fight, I might have permanently cemented myself as a middleweight whether I want it or not…”
It shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to hear all this really. Most fighters want to run back defeats, particularly ones they lost by a narrow margin. But, when you consider that Gastelum is 5’9, his chances of making a championship run at 170 are likely much better. The fact Gastelum is undersized middleweight was pretty apparent in his loss to Weidman earlier this year.
But, first things first, and that’s getting by Bisping, who is one of the most rugged and determined fighters in the game.