Kelvin Gastelum: A Fighter Profile
By Ross Markey
One of the purest arguments in current MMA competition as to why a fighter should fight at a more comfortable weight falls all the feet of The Ultimate Fighter victor Kelvin Gastelum. Improving no end since his move from a scarily depleting welterweight, with poor performances and even poorer weight cut attempts forcing the Californian to really take a realistic view at his faltering career.
Still just 27 years of age, the middleweight title challenger has one of the slickest boxing games in mixed-martial arts worldwide, with very clean counter work, angles and maybe most impressively, timing. Facing someone of Israel Adesanya’s kickboxing eminence offers a huge obstacle itself, but at middleweight, his natural boxing skills are arguably unmatched.
Plying his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu base under Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu enterprise, the state wrestler is a student of Brian Beaumont, earning a black belt in the process. Boxing skills speak for themselves, but Gastelum is accustomed to grappling exchanges, picking up three separate rear-naked choke victories over his nineteen fight métier.
Displaying his rock solid striking against Michael Bisping in his last stoppage win, Gastelum executed a beautiful pull counter, landing a right hand before a check left hook, sending the former division champion to the mat. Another performance that really caught the eye was his dominant third-round knockout defeat of Tim Kennedy in his middleweight rebirth. Gastelum almost looked a class apart from Kennedy, slipping expertly and picking the former Strikeforce championship chaser apart throughout each round.
When paired with the iconic Vitor Belfort in Brazil, Gastelum again scored a first-round finish, demonstrating lightning quick hands, before an eventual win was overturned to a questionable ‘no contest’. Even in his arm-triangle defeat to Chris Weidman, Kelvin scored an early knockdown and landed some damaging strikes on the feet.
Kelvin’s ability to land inside the pocket with impeccable speed and power is something ‘The Last Stylebender’ must be hugely wary of, but Gastelum notably has yet to be paired with someone of Adesanya’s kicking caliber.