Kelvin Gastelum looked strong his middleweight return at UFC 188. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Kelvin Gastelum looked right at home at 185 pounds on Saturday night...
“The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner overwhelmed Nate Marquardt in a featured middleweight bout at UFC 188 in Mexico City, forcing the ex-Strikeforce titlist to quit on his stool after two rounds. It was Gastelum’s first fight at 185 pounds since he upset Uriah Hall at the reality show’s finale in April 2013.
Despite his troubles making the 170-pound limit for past bouts, Gastelum doesn’t necessarily plan on sticking around in the division where he made his UFC debut. Prior to his victory over Marquardt, the 23-year-old expressed a desire to return to welterweight after UFC 188.
UFC President Dana White believes the Yuma, Ariz., native should stay where he is.
“I love this kid; he’s such a great fighter. He goes in with a kid like Marquardt and stands right in the pocket with him and exchanges. His standup looked great tonight, but I don’t believe he can make 170,” White said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I honestly don’t believe he can make 170. He’s done nothing to prove that he can make 170 pounds. When he doesn’t make 170 pounds, a) it’s dangerous and b) it screws a lot of things up around here.
“He’s gonna have to get serious and get a nutritionist,” White continued. “He had to cut to make 185 and he came in right on the nose. I am the furthest from confident that he is capable of making 170 no matter how much I like him or how much he says he can do it. I don’t believe it.”
In his most recent attempt to fight at welterweight, Gastelum came in nine pounds heavy before suffering the first loss of his professional career against Tyron Woodley at UFC 183. While Gastelum thinks he will be undersized against the division’s top middleweights, White is more concerned with the health of his fighter.
“He looked great at 185,” White said. “He looked healthy. He didn’t look like he was going to die at the weigh-ins and he fought great tonight. If you’re me or anybody who remotely cares about the kid, where would you want him to fight? I get it: he wants to be at 170, but he’s gonna have to do something to get to 170. Just training and whatever he’s been doing isn’t cutting it.”
Despite White’s strong sentiments, Gastelum seems set on at least giving the return to welterweight another shot. It’s simply a matter of showing the UFC boss that he can make the cut.
“I haven’t done anything to prove it,” Gastelum said. “Actions speak louder than words. Now that he’s said that I need to prove it, I’m going to prove it. That’s fine.”