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Kelvin Gastelum has long hoped for a title shot, and his wish has finally been granted after two big victories. He will have to do it in enemy’s territory, though, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship takes another trip to Australia for UFC 234.
Will Gastelum spoil Robert Whittaker’s first title defense? Fans will find out on Feb. 9 as his toughest preparations are put to the test. Before that happens, learn more about the Kings MMA standout by taking a look at the numbers that have defined his mixed martial arts journey.
5: Straight wins by stoppage to start his professional career. The Mexican-American fought twice in Mexico and three times in Arizona.
56: Seconds was his fastest finish to date. He did it against Bill Smallwood, who he submitted via rear-naked choke at Cage Rage: On the River 2.
4: Fellow contestants defeated to reach the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 17. He won a decision over Kito Andrews to enter the show. From there, he stopped Bubba McDaniel, Collin Hart and Josh Samman to earn his ticket to the finale against Uriah Hall.
15: Minutes opposite Hall in their finals showdown. Gastelum defied expectations when he defeated Hall, who was a heavy favorite coming into the match due to his violent finishes during the show.
5: Straight wins to start his UFC career. After winning TUF 17, he submitted Brian Melancon, won decisions over Rick Story and Nico Musoke, and submitted Jake Ellenberger. Back then, Ellenberger was the biggest name in his resume.
5: Fights decided by a split decision. Gastelum has engaged in some exciting fights at middleweight, and proof of this is the fact that he has five bouts that ended in a split decision. These include his wins over Hall, Story and Ronaldo Souza and his losses to Tyron Woodley and Neil Magny.
0: Losses by KO or TKO. Gastelum has two losses by decision and another by submission. His chin has served him well as he has yet to suffer a knockout loss in his career.
62: Percent total takedowns avoided. The state championship wrestler has been displaying strong takedown defense, having controlled excellent grapplers such as Souza and Johny Hendricks.
13: Combined number of takedowns scored on him by Magny and Chris Weidman. As good as his takedown defense is, Gastelum had a problem containing these fighters’ wrestling skills. This was a pivotal factor in these two defeats.
5: Post-fight bonuses. In his entire stay inside the UFC, Gastelum has earned two Fight of the Night awards, with Magny and Souza, and three Performance of the Night awards at the expense of Ellenberger, Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping.
2: Weight divisions in which he has fought in. Apart from middleweight, where he is currently ranked no. 4, Gastelum has also fought at welterweight.
10: Stoppages on his resume. Gastelum has six wins by KO or TKO and four by submission. He has no qualms about finishing fights early if he sees the opportunity. In all, he has five victories in the first round.