Out of everyone on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight roster, former TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum may possess the most untapped potential.
As a 24-year-old rising contender who has already compiled a UFC record of 6-2, Gastelum is one of the more promising fighters in the 170-pound division. Both of his Octagon loses came by way of split decision, adding to the notion that he's already one of the toughest guys to beat.
Currently scheduled to take on former UFC Welterweight champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 200 on July 9 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Gaselum has a chance to further solidify his role in the ongoing title picture. Unfortunately for Hendricks, Gastelum seems more focused than he ever has.
"This is a big one for me and I couldn’t be more excited," said Gastelum in a recent interview with Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. "This is the reason why I got into the UFC, for these big fights. I want to be up there with the top guys and this is my opportunity to go ahead and display that I belong at the top of the welterweight division."
As someone who has failed to capitalize on big opportunities in the past, specifically his meetings with current top contender Tyron Woodley at UFC 183 and Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night 78, Gastelum must prove he's capable of using his athleticism and punching power to ward off the division's best.
"Everybody saw I was too laid back the first three rounds (against Magny)," added Gastelum. "It took me toward the end of the third round to wake up and figure it out. No more waiting around this time. I’m going to come in full-blast every fight."
Hendricks is also coming off a main event loss in which he suffered the first knockout defeat of his career opposite Stephen Thompson back at UFC Fight Night 82.
Ironically, both Hendricks (click here) and Gastelum (click here) have struggled to make weight in the past, so it should be interesting to see what each fighter looks like on July 8.
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