Kelvin Gastelum traded in one former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder for another.
“The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner will meet deposed middleweight champion Michael Bisping in the UFC Fight Night 122 headliner this Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China, where he can add a significant piece to an already impressive resume. Bisping serves as a short-notice replacement for Anderson Silva, who was flagged for a potential violation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Gastelum, 26, has compiled an 8-3 record inside the Octagon but has not competed since he submitted to a third-round arm-triangle choke from Chris Weidman at UFC on Fox 25 in July. Operating out of Kings MMA and training under the watchful eye of Rafael Cordeiro, Gastelum has become a finely tuned offensive weapon, with nine of his 13 career victories coming by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
As Gastelum prepares for his pivotal showdown with Bisping, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He was shaped by countless hours on the mat.
Gastelum won a state wrestling championship at Cibola High School in Yuma, Arizona, in 2009. However, he was not the first “Ultimate Fighter” winner the school has produced. It was also once home to Efrain Escudero, who won Season 8 of the long-running reality series.
2. Swings and misses have been kept to a minimum.
Since he made his promotional debut at “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale in April 2013, Gastelum has been one of the middleweight division’s most accurate strikers. According to FightMetric data, he lands at a 52.3 percent clip -- good for seventh among active fighters at 185 pounds behind the aforementioned Silva (61.4), Luke Rockhold (61.0), Trevor Smith (59.1), Tim Boetsch (53.6), Yoel Romero (53.5) and Uriah Hall (53.1). Gastelum has also established himself as one of the UFC’s most prolific middleweight strikers, as he lands 3.68 strikes per minute. That number ranks 10th among active 185-pound competitors.
3. He held down quite the day job.
Prior to being cast on “The Ultimate Fighter” and pursuing his MMA training on a full-time, Gastelum served as a bail bondsman in Arizona.
4. He has grown accustomed to looking up at the opposition.
At 5-foot-9, Gastelum is the shortest middleweight on the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster. He holds that distinction with Johny Hendricks, a man he defeated by unanimous decision at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016.
5. Matchmakers have made him run a gauntlet in the UFC.
Bisping will be the sixth former UFC or Strikeforce champion Gastelum has faced in his last eight appearances. Against Weidman, Hendricks, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt and Tyron Woodley, he has put together a 2-2 record, with one no-contest. The technical knockout victory he scored over Belfort on March 11 was wiped from the books after Gastelum tested positive for marijuana during a post-fight drug screen.