Kelvin Gastelum isn’t budging after his latest high-profile win at 185 pounds.
The No. 5-ranked middleweight immediately called out for a title shot against the winner of UFC 225’s Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero main event after his split decision win (highlights here) over veteran Ronaldo Souza in the co-main event of last night’s (Sat., May 12, 2018) UFC 224 from the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It was a close, back-and-forth bout that saw both men have their respective moments and legitimately could have gone either way, but ultimately Gastelum squeaked by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu master to score his second straight victory over a big name after knocking out Michael Bisping last November.
At the post-fight press conference, Gastelum reaffirmed his desire for a title shot and said he wouldn’t accept any other match-up based on his recent body of work:
“I definitely feel like a title shot should be next. I don’t think I’d accept any other fight than the title shot. I’m the most active middleweight there has been. All the guys (I’ve beat) are top-10 and former champions, so I feel like I deserve it.”
There are a couple things going for Gastelum here, and also a few things that may prevent him from getting his coveted title fight.
Working for him is the fact that the middleweight division is lacking in truly elite title contenders; Romero and Gastelum have effectively cleared out the once-crowded top five in the last two years. And with many top names booked or injured, his body of work is no doubt impressive in his frequency and level of competition in addition to how he’s able to knock anyone’s lights out.
But working against him is the fact that he was tapped out by No. 4-ranked former champion Chris Weidman last year, and also that his record over his last four fights, as a result, is just 2-1(1). The no contest was originally a knockout over Vitor Belfort, but beating “The Phenom” at this point isn’t close to what it used to be. He also knocked out former champ Bisping, but ‘The Count’ was a late replacement who had been badly hurt and choked by Georges St-Pierre only three weeks before.
That may or may not be the resumé of a truly deserving title contender, but his rise up the ranks can’t be denied so the 26-year-old future star should get the fight he wants soon.
It’s the only fight he’ll accept, and one for which he said he’s willing to sit out until he gets:
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“I definitely feel I deserve the shot. So I definitely feel like I will sit out until my shot is next.”