For UFC middleweight Kelvin Gastelum (14-3,1NC), taking a fight with one the greatest UFC fighters of all time, Anderson Silva and winning that fight seemed like a quick way to get his career back on track after a lackluster 2017. But, Silva was flagged earlier this month with a potential doping violation from the USADA and was pulled off the card. Wasting no time at all after his recent title loss to Georges St. Pierre just over two weeks ago at UFC 217, Michael Bisping (31-8) stepped in and will now face Gastelum in a five round middleweight bout this Saturday in Shanghai, China. “I only feel it’s an advantage career-wise,” explained Gastelum. “Mike is obviously a former champion and he’s highly ranked and his position in the UFC is very high so this is a great move for my career.
With only a few weeks to recover, Bisping says he is medically cleared and ready for this quick turn-around fight with the TUF Season 17 winner. “Yes, I feel great,” said Bisping. “Physically I’m totally fine, 100% fine. Mentally, of course I’m a little bit numb so I want to rectify that and exorcise my demons. Best way I do that is to get back in the ring and fight again.”
With weight cutting issues in the past, Gastelum didn’t intend to be fighting as a middleweight again so soon, but a win over Bisping on Saturday could catapult him into title contention in 2018. “I feel like if I win this fight then I might have tarnished those plans and I might’ve just permanently put myself in the position where I’ll be fighting for the middleweight title,” said Gastelum. “If I get to fight for the middleweight title, then that’s ideal but I also feel like if I do the right things and I’m able to make the 170 safely and healthy, then I can do it and I want to fight for that title too.”
Both Kelvin Gastelum and Michael Bisping are in very different times in their career. Talks of a Bisping retirement fight in London in March have been buzzing around the MMA world. Gastelum on the other hand, has just been given an opportunity to go on another title run in his career and it seems very doable this time around. He is also used to being an underdog in his career as he is in that position again on Saturday night versus Bisping. “That’s been the story of my career, said Gastelum. “I’ve been the underdog in a lot of my fights ever since The Ultimate Fighter. That’s just been the story of my career and I am more than happy to step-up to the plate each and every time.”
Kelvin Gastelum will face Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC Fight Night China, this Saturday on UFC Fight Pass. Early Prelims start at 3:45am ET with the main card starting at 7am ET.
Photo credit: Getty Images/Zuffa, LLC.