When Kelvin Gastelum opened the e-mail and saw the offer to fight Johny Hendricks at UFC 200, the first emotion he felt was surprise. Here was a fighter in the midst of his first career slump, still reeling from a rocky year riddled with losses and questions about his fluctuating weight, unexpectedly getting the chance to dance with a former UFC welterweight champion at one of the promotion’s seminal events.
But that’s just mixed martial arts. The game is nothing if not unpredictable, and if Gastelum was looking for a way to remind the world why he was once considered a can’t-miss welterweight prospect, he knows he couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.
“This is the biggest fight of my life,” Gastelum told MMA Fighting. “It’s a position that I’ve been in before, so I’m comfortable where I’m at, comfortable taking the fight. But on the other hand, this is Johny Hendricks. He’s a former champ. He’s beaten a lot of beasts. He’s a killer, and he’s got that knockout power. Right now, it’s intimidating. Absolutely. You’ve got a lot of psychological battles you’ve got to go through, but I believe in myself and what I can do.”
The booking comes at an interesting time for Gastelum, whose honeymoon stage with the UFC ended in 2015 with losses in two of three fights, punctuated by a brief dalliance at middleweight after a badly botched weight cut at UFC 183.
Gastelum now sees UFC 200 on July 9 as a fresh start. He calls the opportunity “a dream come true” when he thinks back to the memory of watching UFC 100 from the couch of his college dorm room in 2009. He had just one amateur fight at the time, so in a way, the chance to compete at ….View full article
Source:: mma fighting