After his performance this past weekend (Sat. May 12, 2018) on the UFC 224 pay-per-view (PPV) event, former welterweight contender Kelvin Gastelum has solidified himself as a frontrunner for the next shot at the UFC middleweight title.
Gastelum went toe-to-toe with Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Ronaldo Jacare Souza in the co-main event of the night, in Souza's own home-country no less, and withstood a dangerous ground attack before rallying with a striking clinic that earned him a split decision win.
Now, Gastelum can not be denied a shot at the 185-pound title. Souza was the No. 2-ranked middleweight in the world when Gastelum beat him, Luke Rockhold was just defeated and is likely moving up in weight, and Chris Weidman is currently injured.
If Weidman does return soon, however, things could get interesting. The All American's last Octagon appearance saw him pick up a third round submission win over Gastelum last year.
Since then, however, Gastelum has remained active with a knockout over former 185-pound champion Michael Bisping, and now a win over Souza.
It's only fair that the former Ultimate Fighter winner now gets a shot at the title.
In his post-fight interview Saturday, Gastelum doubled down on his aspirations to challenge for the championship - currently held by Robert Whittaker who will defend against Yoel Romero next month at UFC 225 - saying he doesn't think he'd accept anything less than a title opportunity at this point.
He pointed out the last few opponents he has defeated are all former champions and top-ten ranked guys.
For that reason, he feels he is deserving of a UFC title opportunity that would be the first of his career (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I definitely feel like a title shot should be next,” Gastelum said at the UFC 224 post-fight press conference.
“I don’t think I’d accept any other fight than the title shot. I’m the most active middleweight there has been. All the guys (I’ve beat) are top-10 and former champions, so I feel like I deserve it.
“I definitely feel I deserve the shot,” Gastelum said. “So I definitely feel like I will sit out until my shot is next.”
What are your thoughts on Gastelum saying he thinks he has earned a shot at the UFC middleweight title next? Do you think the UFC will reward him with a 185-pound title opportunity? And who do you think he'd fare against either Whittaker or Romero? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below!
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