Kelvin Gastelum vs Chris Curtis scheduled for UFC 287
Former UFC middleweight title challenger and current no. 13 ranked Kelvin Gastelum (16-8) was forced to withdraw from his January clash with no. 12 ranked Nassourdine Imavov, who ended up facing no. 7 ranked Sean Strickland in UFC Vegas 67’s main event instead.
However, he attempts to make a quick turnaround against no. 14 ranked Chris Curtis (30-9) at UFC 287.
UFC 287 is to go down on April 8, 2023, live from a to-be-determined venue and location.
Kelvin Gastelum was at one point in his career a true prodigy, a young, overlooked phenom that quickly became known on the set of The Ultimate Fighter 17, where he went 4-0 on the show with three finishes en route to his finale bout opposing Uriah Hall, who’d also gone 4-0 on the show with three finishes.
Gastelum pulled off one of the greatest upsets in MMA history at the time with his victory over Hall, which awarded him the claim of becoming The Ultimate Fighter.
Four more victories would soon follow, improving him to 10-0 as a professional and 5-0 in the UFC, two of those victories coming over longtime welterweight staples Rick Story (SD) and Jake Ellenberger (rear naked choke).
Gastelum would go 1-2 over his next three outings, losing both defeats via split decision, one to future, now former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, the other to the winningest fighter in welterweight history Neil Magny, and the victory coming via TKO over Nate Marquardt.
Considering Gastelum had problems consistently making the 171 lb limit, in fights that went ahead, and also a couple that were cancelled due to his constant weight misses, he was forced to move up to 185 lbs.
This showed him initially defeat the likes of Johny Hendricks (UD), Tim Kennedy (TKO), and Vitor Belfort (KO), though the victory over Belfort was overturned due to Gastelum failing his drug test for marijuana.
Gastelum was then mauled and submitted (arm-triangle choke) by former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, before he’d defeat both Michael Bisping (KO) and Jacare Souza (SD).
At this point, Gastelum had defeated five former world champions: Marquardt (Pancrase middleweight & Strikeforce welterweight), Hendricks (UFC welterweight), Belfort (UFC heavyweight & light-heavyweight), Bisping (UFC middleweight), and Souza (Strikeforce middleweight); things were looking incredibly bright for him.
Not to mention, two of his three defeats came via split decision, and the other to Weidman where he was finished, he secured a knockdown on the former champion. What’s more, he was only in his mid-20’s at this time. He had all the time in the world to continue improving, and he could’ve arguably been 17-1 rather than 15-3, or 18-1 considering his no contest.
Gastelum was then slated to face Robert Whittaker for the UFC middleweight championship. However, Whittaker was forced out of the bout with an injury, and a couple months later he’d face Israel Adesanya for the interim title.
This was one of the greatest fights of all-time. But, after hurting the former kickboxing champion badly, more than once, he’d fall short and lose the fight via unanimous decision.
Including that fight, Gastelum has gone 1-5 over his latest six appearances, losing to Adesanya, former welterweight title challenger Darren Till (SD), Jack Hermansson (heel hook), Robert Whittaker (UD), and Jared Cannonier (UD), the lone victory coming over Ian Heinisch.
This is one of the evident instances where certain fights just change a fighter. Just like Rory MacDonald’s rematch with Robbie Lawler, or when Renan Barao fought TJ Dillashaw the first time, they really just haven’t been the same since.
Gastelum is in serious need of a win come UFC 287.
But, his opponent, Chris Curtis, has other plans.
Curtis made it to 26-8 as a professional before he was finally called up by the UFC, a far cry from Gastelum’s 5-0 run prior to joining.
Three-straight victories would soon follow over the likes of Phil Hawes (KO), Brendan Allen (TKO), and Rodolfo Vieira (UD), before he was picked apart by Jack Hermansson in his fourth promotional appearance, losing the fight via unanimous decision.
This was followed up by Curtis KO’ing fellow knockout artist Joaquin Buckley in round two last month at UFC 282.
Who walks away from this middleweight showdown at UFC 287 the victor?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.