Rising middleweight Kelvin Gastelum called out the former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva after defeating Victor Belfort in the first round at Fortaleza, Brazil. Gastelum was granted his wish and he will take on the UFC legend Anderson Silva on June 3, 2017, at UFC 212.
UFC 212 is a PPV card headlined by a UFC Featherweight Championship unification bout between current two-time champion José Aldo and interim champion Max Holloway.
Anderson Silva, who is regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, will be 42 when he takes on Kelvin Gastelum. Silva was the longest reigning champion in UFC and defended the UFC middleweight 10 times.
Anderson Silva’s last win came at UFC 208 where the legend won a controversial unanimous decision against Derek Brunson. Most MMA analysts agree that time has caught up with Silva, who has lost four of his last six fights.
Kelvin Gastelum has struggled to make weight to compete in the welterweight division and may have found a new home at middleweight. The 25-year old Mexican-American fighter seems to have his eyes set on climbing the middleweight rankings and stated that this was his motivation for calling out Silva.
Gastelum has still expressed interest in going back down to welterweight as he feels he has a better chance at winning the title in that division. He lost a close split decision to current champion Tyron Woodley in 2015 and he feels he can beat Woodley in a second matchup.
Gastelum has missed weight three times when competing at welterweight and it is unclear if UFC president Dana White will allow the 25-year old to drop back down.
Gastelum will be trained by Anderson Silva’s former coach Rafael Cordeiro. Kelvin has been training with Cordeiro at Kings MMA for a while now and it will not be a strategic change of training partner. Bloody Elbow reports that Silva and Cordeiro are cordial and have spoken about the upcoming bout at UFC 212.
“I got some history with Anderson Silva back from 2001 and 2002 when I trained him at Chute Boxe. Now, everything has changed. Friendship apart, that’s a competition and we’re all here to win. We all hope to win and I hope Kelvin Gastelum walks out victorious.
“Anderson has been at Kings MMA a few times, I have a good relationship with him, we talk over the phone and there’s no beef between us. A fight is a fight, that only shows how professional we are. Anderson has been in the opposing corner when Werdum faced Big Nog and that didn’t affect us.”
Kelvin Gastelum won The Ultimate Fighter 17 at middleweight against Uriah Hall. He has since won three straight fights in that division. The 25-year old middleweight contender has great boxing skills and will likely be the aggressor against counter-puncher Silva.
Gastelum knocked Victor Belfort off the top 10 rankings at middleweight and landed on No. 8. Silva is currently ranked No. 7 in the middleweight rankings. If Kelvin Gastelum is victorious at UFC 212 in Rio, he will most likely take on a top five opponent.
Robert Whittaker is expected to fight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on April 15, 2017, at UFC on Fox 2 while Chris Weidman takes on Mousasi at UFC 210. Yoel Romero is waiting for a title shot and former champion Luke Rockhold is injured. Therefore, the top five middleweight fighters are all tied up and Gastelum or Silva will likely take on the winner of one of these bouts or fight Rockhold when he recovers from his leg injury.
Gastelum will likely be the favorite going into the fight with The Spider.
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