Kelvin Gastelum has a firm grasp on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and the purpose it has served for the UFC.
Gastelum won TUF 17 when he defeated Uriah Hall via split decision. He has gone on to defeat some of the biggest names at both 170 and 185 pounds. Several years later, Gastelum has now coached on both TUF Latin America, and TUF’s most recent season, TUF 28. Gastelum coached opposite upcoming opponent, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
Speaking to media recently to promote the fight, Gastelum was asked about his experience on TUF. The former tournament winner said he believes the show has served its purpose after all these years, and expects the promotion to make some changes to the program moving forward (via My MMA News):
“I definitely think there should be some sort of feeding program for the UFC, like The Ultimate Fighter has been but I think The Ultimate Fighter has served its purpose,” Gastelum said. “Maybe [they] need to do something similar but different. I think people are kind of over the reality show thing.
“I think people just want to see the fights. I think that’s what’s going to happen. I think the UFC needed The Ultimate Fighter and I felt like it’s a big staple of the UFC and a reason why the UFC is where it’s at today but I think they need to change it up a little bit. I think they will.”
Gastelum earned his UFC middleweight title opportunity after picking up back-to-back victories. He defeated both Michael Bisping and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza before earning a title bout. Gastelum will certainly have his hands full against Whittaker, who hasn’t lost in nine fights.
This will be the Aussie’s first official title defense, as his previous opponent, Yoel Romero, missed weight. As a result, their fight was simply a five-round main event. Should both fighters make weight for the fight, it will be Whittaker’s first career title defense.
UFC 234 goes down live from the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia tomorrow (Sat. February 9, 2019).