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Kelvin Gastelum Was Near Quitting MMA Before TUF 17, Now Looks to Welterweight

(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.

- Elias Cepeda

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Pen Fifteen- April 16, 2013 at 7:56 am
Also, you do realize you can type out the whole word "FUCK" and no one is going to penalize you for it. Unless you are trying to look like a 14 year old whose mother reads his keystroke log.
Pen Fifteen- April 16, 2013 at 7:55 am
If people don't want to adhere to my arbitrary moral standards, fuck 'em. Sounds like the great basis for a regulatory policy to me.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- April 16, 2013 at 7:14 am
Let them endanger their health - if they're that intent on cutting, that's their choice and their risk. If they are worse off, good. F@#$ 'em.
Pen Fifteen- April 16, 2013 at 6:26 am
Except your scenario of what would "essentially" happen has fuck-all to do with what would happen in "realistically." You might stop the Anthony Johnson's of the world, but all you're going to do is make the guys who hit very normal 10-15 pound cuts that much worse off come fight time. I know you think you have the psychology of the elite athlete totally figured out, but your claims about the extents to which people would go to get a weight advantage over an opponent, even at the risk of endangering their long-term health, are pure speculative bullshit.

Seriously, you act as if you can't see any counterargument to your perfectly rational position, which relies entirely on speculation about what may or may not happen. In any case, I don't see what the fuck this has to do with Gastelum's very rationale decision to cut to 170.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- April 16, 2013 at 1:12 am
the side effects are better because if they cut have to cut the weight and fight the same day, they will be depleted and more than likely LOSE. So they will essentially be forced to fight at a more realistic weight and not cut if they hope to win.
Pen Fifteen- April 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm
The point is that your solution is totally impractical. This has been tried before, in other professional combat sports, and people will still try to cut the weight. And how are any of the side effects of same-day of the inevitable weight-cutting that will take place any better? You're actually helping prove my point. Same day weigh-ins make an already unhealthy practice even more unhealthy.

This isn't about occupying the moral high ground, it's about what is actual a practical rule to apply. You aren't talking about a bunch of high school or collegiate kids fighting over a trophy, these are professional athletes who are fighting for their livelihood.

This idea that you can eliminate weight-based advantages is idiotic in the first place because, believe it or not, human beings don't develop in 10, 15, or 20 pound increments. Yes, weight cutting is dangerous. So is the very idea of getting in a cage.
cman- April 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm
Yes and extreme weight cutting doesn't cause internal organ damage, shut down glands, and contribute to long term memory issues?
And saying depleted fighters: if you fight depleted once you might reconsider weight class. There is no 'advantage' when you feel weak. Further using boxing as a test market for safety is like putting neosporen on bullets.
Pen Fifteen- April 15, 2013 at 8:54 pm
Jesus christ, not this argument again. It's been tried in boxing and it doesn't work. All you do is make it more likely that you'll see a bunch of depleted fighters on fight day who are more likely to get brain damage from being dehydrated.

Weight cutting is part of the sport. You can't ban it, because people will always look for an edge in combat sports. Seriously, it's amazing that you've been screaming this for 4 years and haven't realized that it's a totally unfeasible idea.
cman- April 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm
I'm agreeing with both:
To compete on TUF you have to fight at closer to your walk around weight. Time doesn't allow for full cuts. Which means you exit to a disadvantage when you start fighting in the UFC, and your fighting guys 35-45#s bigger than you which is why:
For 4 years now on here and anywhere I've screamed for same day weigh ins. Remove advantage, safer for fighters in the cage and long term. Mostly it removes wrestlers, many of whom have decades of weight cutting practice, from fighting 20# heavier and just laying on an opponent.
anderson wanderlei paulo thiago alves silva- April 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm
Hw 6'3+
Lhw 6'2+
Mw 6+
Ww 5'10+
Lw 5'9 +
Fw 5'8
Bw 5'6
Fly 5'5
Shifty-Eyed Dog- April 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm
Oh it makes complete sense. What is dumb is the idea of weght cutting. They need to start doing same-day weigh-ins, so people have to fight at their natural weight or fight at the weight they cut to, so people will stop essentially cheating the system by ridiculously cutting weight and then packing it back on 24 hours later.
Pen Fifteen- April 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Your criticism makes zero sense. TUF requires people to fight as many as 4 times in a span of less than 2 months. It is impossible to adhere to the kind of standard weight-cutting protocols over such an intensive span of activity.

And why the fuck does it matter what class the guy won at? Your assumption that the show exists to "find new talent for a weight class" is hilariously misguided. At this point, the show serves as a vehicle for personalities, particularly those of the coaches, more than anything. Virtually all hot prospects won't go near TUF because the pay scale is so shitty. So, that's why you see feel-good stories like Kevin Gastelum or Court McGee who virtually never materialize in to contenders. Given how shitty the talent pool is, it only makes sense that guys would begin cutting to a lower class immediately.

If you really have that much emotional investment in the weightclass a dude fights at, you are taking this sport way too fucking seriously.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- April 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm
Rashad Evans: won at heavyweight, moved to LHW
Michael Bisping: won at LHW, moved to MW
Tony Ferguson: won WW, moved to LW
Mac Danzig: won WW, moved to LW
Joe Stevenson: won WW, moved to LW
Jonathon Brookins: won LW, moved to FW
Diego Sanchez: won MW, moved to WW and LW
Amir Sadollah: won MW, moved to WW
Court McGee: won MW, moved to WW (just recently)

...and that's just the winners. There are tons more in runners-up, etc.
anderson wanderlei paulo thiago alves silva- April 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm
A lot 0f 5'9 fighters this season.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- April 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm
I'm sick of practically every TUF winner changing weight classes after winning. They feature a specific weight class each season to find new talent for that division, yet people just try out for whatever class it is and then change when it's over.

If I was White, I'd say you fight in the class you competed in for the show, or you Get the F Out.
ytrebil- April 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm
What a top 'kid'. I'm glad Kelvin won the show, he has a ton of heart, seems genuine, down to earth and was not intimidated by Uriah.

Also, a good move to go to WW.

I really hope Kelvin does well in the UFC.