After washing out of the UFC’s welterweight division because of difficulties making the weight limit, TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum focused on changing his lifestyle. "I’m ready to do things, right," he recently told the UFC.
"I’m ready to go on the right path … This is my return to the welterweight division."
Following a June TKO win over Nate Marquardt, Gastelum now faces Neil Magny in Monterrey, Mexico, in the main event of Saturday’s FS1 event. Gastelum was originally set to face top contender Matt Brown, but the Ohio warrior was forced out with injuries just over two weeks before the bout.
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Gastelum says that no one, save for one man, was willing to step in and face him on short notice. That one man was road warrior Neil Magny — one of the division’s top-ranked and hottest contenders.
"They called everybody in the top 10, and Neil Magny stepped in," Gastelum said.
"Nobody took this fight on 18-days notice, except him. I’m just happy I get to compete. Neil’s a great competitor."
Gastelum wants to make a run for the title in 2016, and he knows that a win over a higher-ranked opponent like Magny can help him get that started. "This is a great opportunity … because he is a higher-ranked opponent than me. A win over Magny could put me up in the top 10 of the division," he continued.
"I want to be in the conversations for fighting for a title or fighting for contendership."
Though he respects Magny, Gastelum is confident that he’s the far superior combatant. "He’s not great everywhere but he’s good, everywhere," he said of Magny.
"So, the only complications I see in the fight is him using his reach. He’s probably the tallest guy in the division."
Despite Magny being a much different fighter than his originally-scheduled opponent, Gastelum insisted that he and his team didn’t switch their preparation up, much. "Honestly, we don’t adjust, much," he said.
"My lower center of gravity is going to be an advantage in this fight. It’s going to be a lot harder for Neil to punch down, rather than punch straight, or punch up. I’ve fought guys as big as him, so I don’t think it’s anything new to me."
Gastelum is also certain that the fight will be exciting for the Mexican fans. "This fight has all the ingredients to be exciting. I know Neil brings it, 100 percent of the time. He’s won eight of his last nine fights," he credited.
"Everyone knows I bring it to the Octagon, so, it’s going to be — it’s going to be two forces coming together and we’re going to clash. We’ll see who falls first."
At the end of what could very well be a great main event, Gastelum sees himself imposing his will and earning the finish. "I go in, I take him down, and I see a rear-naked choke," he said with a smile.