Kelvin Gastelum wants a title shot and his willing to sit out to get it.
After taking a split-decision nod over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 224 on Saturday in Rio, Gastelum, 26, believes that a UFC middleweight title shot should be next on his schedule.
“I definitely feel like a title shot should be next,” Gastelum said at the UFC 224 Post-Fight Press Conference. “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 that I fought are top 10 and former champions. So I feel like I’m deserving.”
After winning a middleweight tournament on The Ultimate Fighter, Gastelum moved to welterweight, where he fought well, but constantly struggled with the scale. His most recent stint at middleweight began with a win over Tim Kennedy in December 2016. He then went on to defeat Vitor Belfort via TKO stoppage, but had that result changed to a no contest after he tested positive for marijuana.
Following the Belfort debacle, Chris Weidman handed Gastelum his only middleweight loss. He has since rebounded with back-to-back wins over former UFC champ Michael Bisping and Jacare.
Is that enough to earn a title shot?
Current champ Robert Whittaker is slated to put his belt on the line for the first time in a rematch with Yoel Romero in the UFC 225 main event on June 9 in Chicago.
Despite his win over Gastelum, Weidman has been dealing with a difficult injury, so he hasn’t fought since then, which has been nearly a year. Prior to defeating Gastelum, he lost three consecutive bouts. Luke Rockhold, who sits near the top of the rankings has lost two of his last three fights and appears on the move to the light heavyweight division.
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So, at a glance, yes, it appears Gastelum might just be the rightful next challenger, and he’s willing to wait for the shot.
“I definitely feel like I deserve the shot,” Gastelum said. “So I definitely feel I will sit out until my shot is next.”
The one thing that could trip up Gastelum’s plans is the fight between Whittaker and Romero. The champion already holds a victory over the challenger, but if Romero were to topple Whittaker and take the belt at UFC 225, there would certainly appear to be a rubber match in the offing.
(Courtesy of MMAFightingonSBN)