The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum made his welterweight debut against Brian Melancon on the main card of last night's (Aug. 28, 2013) UFC Fight Night 27 event on FOX Sports 1, from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
See our full results and live play-by-play here.
Gastelum was looking to utilize a strength and size advantage by cutting down from middleweight, and the move paid off in spades. He looked strong in all aspects of mixed martial arts (MMA), so let's take a closer look at how Gastelum remained undefeated, and what could be next for the rising young star.
Immediately, Gastelum looked like he was more powerful than Melancon, securing two early takedowns. Although Melancon got back on his feet, he looked extremely tentative in the short time he was in the fight. He's usually known for his tendency to trade power shots, but Gastelum threw all the significant strikes last night.
Backing his opponent up, Gastelum unleashed a pinpoint flurry of strikes that rocked Melancon in a big way. He followed up by taking his opponent's back and locking in a deadly rear naked choke.
Melancon had no choice but to tap or go to sleep, and he chose the former.
Gastelum's decision to shift down to a lighter weight class appears to be the right one, as Melancon had absolutely no answer for his attacker's effective wrestling, striking, or submissions. Gastelum's weight cut looked to have gone down without a hitch, and he definitely gained the strength edge he desired in his new home.
Melancon might not be the most feared fighter in the UFC's welterweight division, but he was a good test to gauge Gastelum's effectiveness at 170 pounds. The 21-year-old passed that test with flying colors and now a myriad of options await the surging TUF winner.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would probably be best served by bringing him along slowly, rather than throwing him in against top-10 opponents right away, so a fight with fellow UFC Fight Night 27 winner, Court McGee, could be an attractive match-up, or even a bout against an experienced grinder like Mike Pierce would be good.
Gastelum remains undefeated, having finished every opponent except Uriah Hall, and has gone from a relative unknown to one of the hottest prospects in UFC in under a year. It's a rarely seen meteoric rise that has created a ton of hype for Gastelum to live up to, as he's no longer in the underdog role.
That may not matter, as he seems to relish the pressure of big fights, peaking when it's time to enter the cage.
Melancon, on the other hand, sits at 1-1 inside the Octagon and his job may be in jeopardy. He has the potential to be an exciting fighter, but he simply didn't show up last night. If he does get another fight under the ZUFFA banner, it'll be against a lower mid-tier welterweight, most likely on a Facebook preliminary card.
Kelvin Gastelum added fuel to his own fire when he dispatched Brian Melancon with ease at UFC Fight Night 27. Who should be next for the talented TUF 17 winner?