As the eagerly-awaited title fight looms, here are five things that
you might not know about
Kings MMA standout.
He started out in wrestling.
Gastelum’s introduction to combat sports came through wrestling.
During his high school days at Cibola High School in Yuma, Arizona,
he excelled at the discipline. He continued wrestling at North
Idaho College. After a year of college, he decided to quit in order
to concentrate on his chosen career path of mixed martial arts.
He was the youngest winner of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Fledgling MMA combatant Gastelum was a middleweight contestant on
“The Ultimate Fighter 17: Team Jones vs Team Sonnen” in 2012.
Having defeated Kito
Andrews by decision, he entered the house as the last pick for
Team Sonnen. A second-round submission of Bubba
McDaniel saw him qualify for the quarterfinals, where he
overcame Collin Hart
by TKO. A first round rear-naked choke submission of Josh Samman
followed in the semi-finals. In the finals, he faced experienced
striker Uriah Hall,
who entered the clash as the considerable favorite. After 15
minutes, Gastelum emerged victorious by split decision. In doing
so, the 21-year-old became the youngest ever winner of the
He has a big appetite.
Gastelum is a self-confessed fan of Mexican food with his mother’s
own being a particular favorite. The talented mixed martial artist
has previously been accused of over-indulgence, due to his past
failures in making the welterweight limit. It was his problems with
the scales that led to UFC head honcho Dana White forcing the 5’9’’
pugilist to move to middleweight. Since going up a division, the
Arizonian has not had any trouble making his mandatory weight.
Although the stocky Gastelum has proven himself to be highly
competitive in his new weight class, he has not ruled out returning
to 170 in the future.
He was raised by a single mother.
The UFC veteran was born to Mexican-hailing immigrants in Yuma,
Arizona, in 1991. With an absent father, it was his mother who took
on the role as breadwinner. Gastelum said that she was “working
three to four jobs” to make ends meet. Today, she has her own
restaurant in Yuma that specializes in hot dogs and tacos. It’s
called El Campeon. If her son wins his upcoming title bout, the
name will have proven to be apt. While Gastelum trains at Kings MMA
in California, he remains close to his mother and sees her whenever
He turned professional at 19.
The teenager was making ends meet as a bail bondsman when he made
his professional MMA debut opposite Jose
Sanchez at LAF 1 Border Wars in Dec. 2010. The fight took place
south of the border in his parents’ homeland of Mexico. Just 98
seconds into the second stanza, Gastelum claimed the victory by
TKO. He would go on to win his next nine bouts, with six of them
coming by stoppage.