After his knockout win over Vitor Belfort at UFC Fortaleza on Saturday, Kelvin Gastelum is a contender in two UFC divisions. After winning The Ultimate Fighter 17 as a middleweight in 2013, Gastelum immediately dropped to the welterweight division. In his third bout at 170 pounds, Gastelum failed to make weight. Two bouts later, he missed weight again.
After failing to make weight twice for scheduled welterweight bouts, Gastelum returned to the middleweight division and knocked out veteran Nate Marquardt. His next bout would be back at 170 pounds against Neil Magny. He lost via split decision. He then defeated former champion Johny Hendricks in his next outing, but then a canceled fight at UFC 205 due to a bad weight cut forced him back to middleweight.
He’s logged back-to-back knockout wins in his last two fights, both against middleweight contenders. His only two UFC losses were via split decision to fifth-ranked welterweight Magny and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. He’s unbeaten as a middleweight.
Gastelum either wants to fight former middleweight champion Anderson Silva next, or return to the welterweight division to fight for the top contender’s spot. He believes his path to a title shot is more clear in the 170-pound weight class than it is at middleweight.
Middleweight champion Michael Bisping is expected to face former welterweight titleholder Georges St-Pierre later this summer, while the top of the middleweight division waits. During the UFC Fortaleza post-fight press conference, Gastelum criticized the decision to grant St-Pierre a title shot in his return to the Octagon for the first time since November 2013. In the time St-Pierre has been away from the sport, Gastelum has fought nine times.
“What’s the point of having contenders? What’s the point of rankings if we’re not going to follow the rankings, if we’re not going with the number one contenders? It just doesn’t make any sense. Now everybody wants those big money fights. It just doesn’t make any sense to have any rankings if we’re going to keep doing that kind of stuff,” he said.
Gastelum is not alone in his criticism. UFC commentator Joe Rogan said the same thing after the Bisping and St-Pierre title bout was announced.