Rising welterweight contender Kelvin Gastelum entered his UFC 180 co-main event bout against seasoned veteran Jake Elleberger much like he entered The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale against Uriah Hall; he was widely considered the underdog.
Ellenberger, a proven contender in the 170-pound division, was Gastelum’s toughest test to date on paper. In the octagon, Gestelum finished him inside the first round to remain undefeated.
Gastelum worked his jab early while Ellenberger waited for an opening to counter with combinations. After feeling Ellenberger’s power, Gastelum changed levels and took the fight to the ground. Ellenberger worked his way back to his feet without taking damage. Gastelum pressed forward and initiated the clinch, but Ellenberger rotated around to his back and slammed him to the canvas.
As Gastelum’s body hit the mat, he immediately scrambled. Ellenberger hesitated and Gastelum quickly transitioned to Ellenberger’s back. He slipped his right arm under Ellenberger’s chin and locked in a rear-naked choke that forced the tap out with 14 seconds remaining in the opening round.
“This is the greatest fight in my career. The best fight,” said the youngest winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality series.
“I train a lot in jiu-jitsu with 10th Planet Jiu-jitsu,” said Gastelum about the finish. “I was surprised (he hesitated). He’s an explosive fighter and he didn’t move from his position.”
With the win, Gastelum will crack the top ten rankings in the welterweight division. He extended his undefeated winning streak to 11 consecutive fights.
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