Kelvin Gastelum has his eyes set on UFC gold.
The 26-year-old fighter wants a belt around his waist, but he’s not necessarily gunning for fight with the undisputed UFC middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Instead, Gastelum hopes to get a shot at the interim champ Robert Whittaker and he’s willing to go to Whittaker’s backyard to get it.
“I heard Robert Whittaker needs a main event over in Australia for February and I’m up the challenge,” Gastelum told a group of reporters at the UFC Shanghai post-fight press conference following his knockout win over former champ Michael Bisping. “You guys say I beat up all the elderly, and Robert Whittaker is definitely not an elderly, he’s probably my age, so I’m up for the challenge.
“Anything can happen in the sport of MMA, you know. I feel like Robert Whittaker and I should be next. We’re two young guys who haven’t even hit our prime yet, and I just beat the guy who was the guy so I think I should be next.”
Gastelum is currently ranked ninth in the UFC’s 185-pound division and holds a 2-1 and one no-contest record since moving up from welterweight late last year. His no-contest bout was originally a technical-knockout win over Vitor Belfort, but the result was over turned as Gastelum tested positive for marijuana in an in-competition USADA drug test.
Gastelum’s run in the middleweight division has been built off opponents some consider past their prime, which may not make The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner a prime candidate to challenge for the belt. Yet, Gastelum won’t let that criticism spoil his impressive first-round knockout over Bisping, and shuts down critics with a simple statement:
“He (Bisping) was the middleweight champion three weeks ago.”