Kelvin Gastelum was an underdog from the beginning of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17, but that didn't stop him from running the gauntlet and taking the tournament crown.
The latest winner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) long-running reality show upset Uriah Hall in the TUF 17 middleweight finals Saturday night (April 13, 2013) at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, to become the 28th winner in the history of the series.
A majority of the mixed martial arts (MMA) community counted Gastelum out against the highly touted Hall; however, the underdog delivered and picked up the victory by split decision.
Gastelum and Hall were both member of Team Sonnen on TUF 17, and despite forming a friendship on the show, the 21-year-old believed deep down he deserved to be the winner and wasn't going to let his relationship with "Prime Time" ruin that for him.
"During the show he was a great friend and we trained together a lot," Gastelum said at Saturday's post-fight press conference at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. "My preparation for this fight, mentally, you know he's trying to take something that I think I deserve and something that I earned and that's how I got through the fight.
"He's trying to take something that I got and, you know, I'm not going to let anybody take that away from me."
Gastelum's victory made him the youngest winner in the history of The Ultimate Fighter franchise, and he did it with a complete performance.
Hall was considered a far superior striker, but Gastelum held his own on the feet and proved he is evolving -- exactly the type of statement the Arizona native was hoping to make going into the contest.
"I wanted to make a statement and prove that I wasn't just a wrestler," Gastelum told Heidi Androl on the FUEL TV post-fight show. "That I could strike and I was dangerous on my feet as well."
From being the final pick on the show to the tournament champion, Gastelum's run on TUF 17 was inspirational to many. And before starting what should be a long future in the UFC, the undefeated fighter is taking in what he considers to be one of the best moments of his life thus far.
"I don't know if its sunk in yet," Gastelum said after the fight. "Just everything that I've been through up to this point, it's just a high point in my life."
For more news and notes on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 Finale, check out our complete event archive here.