No. 9 ranked middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum is set to make his third octagon appearance of the year this Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 34 when he faces no. 3 ranked contender Jared Cannonier.
Gastelum started the year off in 2021 with a unanimous decision victory over Ian Heinisch in February at UFC 258. Gastelum then suffered a unanimous decision loss to Robert Whittaker, despite Gastelum taking the fight on short notice as he filled in for Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC Vegas 24 in April.
On Saturday, Cannonier will fight for the first time in 2021.
‘The Killa Gorilla’ has not fought since he was defeated by no. 1 contender and former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in the co-main event of UFC 254 in Oct. 2020.
Gastelum, who will be fighting for the 20th time in the UFC at just 29-years-old (which is pure insanity), is again filling in for Paulo Costa after ‘Borrachinha’ pulled out and voiced his displeasure with his pay.
Speaking at UFC Vegas 34 media day, Gastelum said despite filling in for Costa (again), he felt he had a good amount of time to prepare for Cannonier.
“I felt this time they gave me 10 weeks or nine weeks,” Gastelum said at media day. “So I said, ‘Why not? Let’s actually get some real time to prepare for a top five fight,’ and that’s exactly what we got and thankfully, we got it, and yeah man. This is by far one of the best camps that I’ve had in, I don’t know, I want to say my career or a few years, I don’t know.”
Regarding his opponent, Gastelum says despite the fact that he is aware of how dangerous Cannonier is, he feels him and his team have the formula to defeat him.
“He’s a very strong fighter, a very strong willed fighter, a very good fighter,” Gastelum said. “But at the same time, I mean, I’ve been fighting for a long time. We know what he brings to the table. I’ve seen what he brings to the table, and I’ve experienced it in the cage as well. And so we believe we have answers for everything he may bring.”
With one of his best training camps he has had in his career and an answer to the problem that Jared Cannonier poses, Gastelum could propel himself back to the top of the middleweight division with a victory.