When Kelvin Gastelum stopped Vitor Belfort this past weekend he accomplished some stuff. First, he silenced the euphoric Brazilian crowd; a crowd that was already in a state of delirium after watching Shogun Hua, their other beloved son, reign strikes upon Gian Villante for a huge victory.
Literally smelling blood, as it was a gruesomely bloody UFC Fight Night, the Brazilian’s wanted more. The upstart Gastelum was not willing to oblige. Kelvin Gastelum took on the role of a human sedative instead; the crowd did its best imitation of an empty warehouse as they watched the veteran Belfort get knocked out. It is not an easy task to silence such a crowd, Gastelum did so, and appeared to relish the moment.
That brings me to the second thing Kelvin accomplished this weekend. He effectively threw a hand grenade into the UFC Middleweight Division. A division that is already locked and loaded for greatness in 2017. Gastelum wants to be part of that party and has made a major statement to get invited. The question is however, are there any seats left at the dais?
Gastelum was ranked number 10 going into the Belfort fight. He is bound to move up a spot or two in a very busy middleweight division.
Number five ranked Greg Mousasi takes on number four ranked Chris Weidman in April. Also in April, number three ranked Jacare Souza is set to face number six ranked Robert Whitaker. Dana White also has his sights set on Anderson Silva; ranked seventh, fighting Derek Brunson; ranked eighth.
White has also said that UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping is obligated to give number one contender Yoel Romero a title shot. Yet, reports indicate that George St. Pierre has secured a title shot with Bisping first; Dana White is a master at many things, the pivot is at the top of the list.
These slates of fights make for an exciting time for the middleweight division. But where does it leave Gastelum? He is too hot of a fighter right now to be on the sidelines. He has to get another fight soon. But with whom?
Against number two Luke Rockhold? Luke has his sights on a title shot once his knee injury is cleared. The emergence of GSP no doubt delays Rockhold’s plans. Healthy knee or not. Will he be asked to risk his ranking against Gastelum in the meantime? Unlikely. The fight with a higher probability is matching up Gastelum against a lower-ranked. Think Sam Alvey or Uriah Hall.
Risking his solid top ten ranking against a lower ranked fighter is not the ideal situation for Kelvin. But with the schedule as it is, it may be his only choice; other than staying inactive until these other fights sort themselves out. A dilemma no doubt, however, just like an overcrowded pitching staff, a dilemma you do not mind having.
Whatever happens next for Kelvin Gastelum and the UFC midweight division, the fans win. As usual.
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