Kelvin Gastelum believes an impressive finish over Jacare Souza should get him a shot at middleweight gold.
Gastelum knocked out former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title holder Michael Bisping in the first round of their bout at UFC Shanghai. It was a crucial win for Gastelum, who was submitted in his previous outing by Chris Weidman.
With Weidman out of action, now may be the perfect time for Gastelum to make a case for a title opportunity. To do so, he must get past Souza at UFC 224. If Gastelum pulls it off, then he’ll pay close attention to the Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero title bout at UFC 225.
Speaking to MMAJunkie.com, Gastelum explained what it’ll take to get his championship opportunity:
“I feel like I need to beat him and make a statement. If I don’t make a statement, I don’t think I’ll be able to contend for the title next. But if I go in there and knock him out in the first round, then I have no doubt that the next fight will be for the title.”
Gastelum has gone 1-1, 1 NC in his last three outings. The No Contest was initially a TKO win for Gastelum over Vitor Belfort. The result was overturned when Gastelum was popped for marijuana.
Souza’s last outing was a rematch with Derek Brunson. Souza knocked out Brunson in the first round, rebounding from his loss to Robert Whittaker. He should provide a tough test for Gastelum.
Currently, Gastelum is the fifth ranked UFC middleweight. Souza holds the second spot, only trailing behind Romero and Whittaker. Souza has fallen short to both men, while Gastelum has yet to fight either of them. MMANews.com will provide live coverage of UFC 224 this Saturday night (May 12).
Can an impressive win for Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 224 earn him a title shot?