UFC Fight Night 27’s Kelvin Gastelum: “I wanted to test myself..”

When I heard that Season 17 The Ultimate Fighter king was making the drop to 170, I said to myself, “I kind of saw that coming.” We’ve seen numerous fighters come out of TUF and go to lower weight classes.  So, for TUF Champ, Kelvin Gastelum (6-0 MMA 1-0 UFC), this made sense.

I called his coach, Jamie Huey, on the way to link up with them and I asked him how the weight cut was coming along.  “We got Dolce.” said Huey.  I replied, “Ah!! That’s all you gotta say.”

When I arrived to meet the two of them, I was wow’d by how great Gastelum looked.  Not surprised, but wow’d.  Not only does Gastelum’s face look less filled out, but he was still wearing that prize winning smile and in a great mood.  How many fighters do you know are still seemingly happy when cutting weight?  Well, that’s just the type of work that makes Mike Dolce who he is.  “The weight is coming down and we’re right on track” said Gastelum.

Talking about his upcoming fight at UFC Fight Night 27 against Brian Melancon (7-2 MMA 1-0), I took a step in reverse and asked him about his previous match up with Paulo Thiago (15-5 MMA 5-5 UFC).  Gastelum told me that that was the fight he had chosen out of the multiple choices he was given.  “Joe Silva gave me a couple of names and that was the one I chose to face me.  There were some good guys, but he was the one with the biggest name,” said Gastelum. “I really wanted to test myself.  I really felt he was the best match up for me.”

Coach Jamie Huey also felt that the move for Gastelum to face Thiago was a good move for him.  “When you can get a guy like that out of there, you can move up the ranks much faster,” said Huey.  “We’re obviously in this to become world champion. You gotta be able to fight anyone, anywhere, at any time.” Coach Huey stated just observing the way that Gastelum handled the pressure of the Ultimate Fighter, then winning, he was more than confident that the young TUF champ could handle such an experienced veteran.

However, Thiago had to pull out with a knee injury and would be replaced by 1 fight UFC welterweight, Brian Melancon.  Again, Gastelum showed an array of confidence in the change of opponent.  “He’s a guy who likes to mix it up” said Gastelum.  The California native made it quite clear he’s equally prepared for Melancon’s ground game and stand up which was well on display in his R1 KO of Seth Baczynski at UFC 162.

UFC Fight Night 27 will take place this Wednesday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.  Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the box office.  For those unable to make it, UFC FN 27 can be viewed on Fox Sports 1.

Oh, and did I mention? Gastelum, during cut week, was continuously wearing a smile the entire time.  However, I think the most impressive thing to me was Gastelum’s flexibility and adapting to the change in the opponent change.  You don’t find that that often from guys his age.  That’s rare…and it’s special.

 

A Mir Formality

This Saturday, two former UFC Heavyweight Champions will lock horns.  Josh Barnett lost the title in 2002 to a positive drug test, Mir in 2009 to Brock Lesnar.  That’s a combined 16 years since either man held gold.  After losing unimpressively to Daniel Cormier, I officially wrote off Mir as a gatekeeper. Barnett’s been fighting inferior competition for the past five years, but other than a loss to Cormier, he’s won them all.  Mir is coming off two straight losses.  After Saturday, we should see one of two things.  Is Mir on his way out, or will he continue to guard the Heavyweight gates?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, let’s look back at Mir’s last fight and the possible futures ahead…

Frank Mir vs Daniel Cormier

On April 20th, 2013, UFC veteran Frank Mir welcomed Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and UFC newcomer, Daniel Cormier, to the Octagon.  Mir aimed to expose the quality gap between UFC and non-UFC talent while Cormier looked to solidify his place amongst the MMA elite.

April 20, 2013
UFC 7 on Fox
Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier
Cormier def. Mir via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

“A Mir Formality”

At this point in time
Mir is well past his prime—
He now is a keeper of gates

He’ll still notch some wins
Via nap or a tap
But he won’t be defeating the greats

I feel rather bad
For the sport’s former champ—
He could have done more with his clock

But after he bulked
For his tussles with Brock
He moved like a handicapped rock

With of all that muscle
Attached to his frame
His cardio suffered in spades

The new generation
Of 265s
Are trained to be Jacks of all Trades

So strikers like Santos
Will win with their speed
And wrestlers will grind him away

Or future opponents
Can follow the plan
Perfected by D-Cormier

There’re still several fights
I’d be happy to see—
He’s got plenty left in the tank

But sadly, I fear,
He is done coming near
The #1 Heavyweight rank