The story of Kelvin Gastelum is one that is only written in movie scripts. A short, undersized fighter who entered the Ultimate Fighter house with just 5 professional fights under his belt. He was the last pick for Team Sonnen on the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter and soon revealed that, only standing at 5’9” tall, he usually fights at 170 pounds. The fact that the entire season was taking place at 185 pounds did not deter the young man from bringing it in every fight.
In the blink of an eye, Gastelum found himself in the Ultimate fighter finale. The short, stocky welterweight whose abs weren’t bulging out like the rest of his cast mates had made it to the top of the ladder. Not only did he make it to the finals, but he choked out two men and knocked out another on the way there. The only problem with this scenario is that he was now facing Uriah Hall, the star of the show and the man who, before even completing The Ultimate Fighter, was being called a title contender in the UFC. Hall was a man who owned two of the most brutal knockouts the show had seen and was built like an action figure.
3 rounds and 15 minutes later, Gastelum had his hand raised after defeating Uriah Hall by decision, making him the youngest Ultimate Fighter champion in the history of the show. Gastelum immediately dropped to welterweight, and in his first fight against Brian Melancon, immediately dropped his opponent and choked him unconscious. With a dominate performance like that, Gastelum put the welterweight division on notice. A young, hungry, talented prospect was emerging.
Gastelum, not wanting to lose momentum, was very vocal after the win over Melancon, calling out former top contender, Rick Story. At the time, Gastelum wasn’t ranked in the welterweight division, but he got what he wished for and ultimately, defeated Rick Story via close split decision.
After his win over Story, Gastelum shot up the welterweight rankings and currently sits at number 11. This Saturday, at UFC Fight Night 44, Gastelum will take on another rising contender in Nico Musoke. Although Musoke doesn’t have the name recognition or status that Story has, this is a stiff test for Gastelum. A matchup like this is to see which fighter will put themselves in a position to become the next superstar. Gastelum has made a career with the odds stacked against him, and this is yet another fight that will prove pivotal in his career.
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