Kelvin Gastelum is in a rough spot in his career, yet he continues to take on tough challenges.
With Nassourdine Imavov unable to make UFC 273 on April 9 due to visa issues, the option of rescheduling his bout with Gastelum for UFC 274 on May 7 was floated, but Gastelum (16-8 MMA, 11-8 UFC) decided to stay on the card.
The former interim middleweight title challenger now will face another prospect in dangerous finisher Dricus Du Plessis (16-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC). But why take the risk of facing a hungry, short-notice opponent who’s looking to take his spot? The answer is simple for Gastelum.
“At this point, it doesn’t matter,” Gastelum told The Underground. “I’m so well prepared, it didn’t matter who steps in there. I just want to be able to fight April 9. It’s what’s been on my mind for freaking 12 weeks now so that’s what I had in my mind, that’s what I’m keeping in my mind, and that’s what I’m going to get.
“This was an amazing training camp. (I) put in a lot of effort, a lot of thought – not just me, but a group of people behind me. We are collectively putting in a lot of effort and work into this camp, so I wasn’t going to let it go to waste.”
Gastelum has lost five of his past six. His lone win in that stretch came against Ian Heinisch at UFC 258. But the 30-year-old Gastleum isn’t looking at his next fight as a crossroads bout. He’s looking to kickstart a fresh, new run after moving to Arizona to train with Henry Cejudo.
“It feels like a restart in my career,” Gastleum said. “I’m making a lot of changes. I moved out here in Arizona. We’re doing things differently out here, as you can see. ‘Triple C’ is bringing in all these people wanting to work with him, and it’s for a reason. There’s a system that they’ve created and we’re following, and it’s pretty awesome results that we’ve had during this camp and I’m excited. It feels like a restart in my career. It feels like a restart for me. I feel like I’m in a great place mentally, physically. It just feels like a whole new start for me.”