(Photo by Sherdog | Dave Mandel)
Saturday night, Kelvin Gastelum put the brakes on perhaps the biggest Ultimate Fighter hype train in the show’s history, Uriah Hall, by winning a split-decision at TUF 17 finale but today he told MMA Fighting that just a few months ago he was close to hanging up his gloves. “Before [TUF] I was struggling. I was about ready to quit MMA for a while, and just get another job because obviously I wasn’t doing well financially,” Kelvin said.
“I was like, man, if I don’t make it, it’s going to be a while until I’m back in a cage somewhere. Luckily it worked out all in my favor.”
Hall had knocked out and sent multiple fellow contestants to the hospital during his reign of terror on the TUF 17 set but Gastelum was able to shut down the striker’s dangerous offense for the most part on Saturday night. Promoter Dana White had said Hall was the scariest guy in TUF history before the fight but after the finale show, suggested that Hall was, in fact, mentally broken and not mean enough.
The new TUF 17 champion said he wasn’t afraid of the hype going into Saturday’s fight and he doesn’t buy the hype now that he only managed to win because Hall suddenly became a shell of himself, psychologically. It was hard for Uriah to look great because Gastelum wouldn’t let him.
“People are saying he didn’t perform, and I guess I would have to agree,” Kelvin said.
“Mostly because I was putting the pressure on him and actually bringing the fight, which it what a lot of the guys didn’t do. Adam Cella was the guy that brought the fight [during the season] until he stayed stationary the last couple seconds and got caught with that kick. Then the other guys were just scared. I wasn’t scared, I brought the fight to him…it worked out in my favor.”
Just days after winning the TUF 17 middleweight title, Gastelum told MMAFighting that he wants to lose fifteen pounds and drop down to welterweight. Guys like Hall are just too big and strong for Kelvin to dominate the way he likes to.
“Uriah felt real strong…and I wasn’t able to control him like I wanted to and really finish the fight,” he said.
“That was the first fight that I haven’t finished in my career. I’m not a point fighter. I go out there and I try to finish fights, so that’s the only thing. He felt really strong.”
While fighters often take a long time to decide if they can change weight classes, Kelvin seems confident that he can make a healthy and effective weight cut to 170 pounds. “I am [confident I can make welterweight.] All my fights have been at 185, but I know that once I get the diet going and my work outs, I’ll be able to make 170 for sure,” he said.