What’s Next for Gastelum?

Although Kelvin Gastelum tasted defeat on Saturday night against Chris Weidman, the loss opened the door for a potentially better career move.  Gastelum stated his intention of adapting a new lifestyle as he eyes the move back down to welterweight in his next outing.  The loss against the much bigger Weidman didn’t set him too far back, in fact he might’ve gained even more props from the MMA world due to the display of power in his hands and the heart to accept the fight in the first place.  Should the UFC agree to the change in weight class there are plenty of intriguing options for his next opponent and given his previous run at 170, he could find himself close to a title shot opportunity.

“Cowboy” Donald Cerrone is set to do battle against former UFC welterweight champ, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler this Saturday at UFC 214 and  he was previously scheduled to fight Gastelum at UFC 205 before it was cancelled due to a tough weight cut on Gastelum’s behalf.  Should Cerrone come up short against Lawler, it’d open the door for a re-booking of what could make for a battle between a Brandon Gibson trained striker against a Rafael Cordeiro prodigy.

Should Lawler lose against Cerrone, he’d be a great option for Gastelum who could use the match up to display what he is capable of doing against a former world champion.  Lawler is no longer affiliated with American Top Team, but one particular former teammate and current top welterweight contender could have unfinished business with Gastelum.

Jorge Masvidal was previously scheduled to fight Gastelum last year in Mexico City, but the UFC decided to pull Gastelum from the bout and instead pit him against Cerrone at UFC 205, and we all saw how that turned out.  The loss of opponent might’ve gone unnoticed to most, but “Gamebred” was left heart broken.  Masvidal blamed his lack of notoriety for the reason behind having his fight against his highest ranked opponent at the time pulled.  Masvidal responded by taking his frustrations out on Cerrone when they locked horns last January.  With Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson on the shelf for the foreseeable future, there’s a chance we could see Gastelum take his place against Masvidal, but the risk does outweigh the reward.  Gastelum has struggled to make the 171 lb limit in the past and he is currently a step down in terms of rankings when compared to Thompson.  Although, Masvidal recently expressed disappointment at the prospects of only fighting twice in 2017, but that doesn’t mean Gastelum would be ready in time for a fight in the fall.

If one were to consider Gastelum’s lifestyle change needed in order to make the welterweight limit, it’s safe to say he’ll need some more time until he steps back into the octagon.  Someone who could potentially be pushed to a late 2017 return is Gunnar Nelson who lost via TKO against Santiago Ponzinibbio nearly a week ago.  A fight between Gastelum and Nelson could be described as a karate style fighter doing battle against a muay thai stand up fighter.

Other names who could offer Gastelum a challenge could be somebody like Dong Hyun Kim or maybe a bout against his former training partner, Rafael dos Anjos if both are willing.

Saturday night’s loss was more of a wakeup call for the TUF alumni than a setback.  A reminder of why weight classes are implemented and the reality that a much heavier grappler could have his way with Gastelum.  Hopefully the lifestyle change will indeed come to fruition and we’ll see one of the brightest young UFC competitors reach his potential.

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