While he’s happy to be headlining Saturday’s UFC on Fox 25 against former middleweight champion Chris Weidman, Kelvin Gastelum had a much different fight in mind to kick of the second half of 2017.
Having previously been scheduled to face Anderson Silva at UFC 212, the bout was canceled due to Gastelum being flagged by the USADA for marijuana metabolites, he was hoping to have a second chance at the bout, but it didn’t happen.
“We were trying to reschedule the fight with Anderson Silva in Long Island, but I don’t think he accepted the fight,” Gastelum said on the Fight Society Podcast. “He wanted to fight in Rio. (The UFC) came up with Weidman a few days later, and I said why not.
“As long as it’s a main event against a big name that will keep me moving up the ranks then I’ll take it. And that’s exactly what it was.”
Gastelum feels he missed out an opportunity to face a legend in Silva, but believes he can use it to better himself in the future.
“I was a little disappointed because that would have been an even bigger moment for me,” said Gastelum. “I felt like I was in a spaceship ready to skyrocket to the moon, but that quickly came to a halt, and we had to step back and re-focus and reset everything.
“It was a huge opportunity in my life and it was a bummer. But at the same time I feel like these things happen for a reason. They either make you or break you and you’ve got to learn from it.”
When it comes to facing Weidman (13-3) on Saturday on Long Island, N.Y., at UFC on Fox 25, Gastelum (14-2) feels he can outwork his opponent – even in his strongest area – to pick up the win.
“I feel like (wrestling is) what he is going to come out and do, but I’m confident in my wrestling abilities,” Gastelum said of Weidman. “I don’t have the wrestling pedigree… not the wrestling pedigree, but the accolades that he does; All-American and whatnot; but I’m very confident in my abilities and my skillset as well.
“I have no problem whether he comes out and wrestles; I can out-wrestle him. I feel like I can out-box him. I have no problem anywhere the fight goes. I’m very confident in my skillset.”
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When it comes to future plans, not only does Gastelum have his eyes set towards middleweight gold, but he’d also like to go back down in weight and challenge for another belt as well.
“I still have my eyes set on that welterweight gold eventually,” said Gastelum. “I don’t know when, but I feel eventually I want to go back down and fight for the title.
“The middleweight division is a little stuck right now, but I feel like I can be a guy that comes in and puts it in place. If I win a championship I feel like I can be the guy that just defends the belt. I’m not going to be running away from guys, but I need to get that title shot first.”
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