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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Kelvin Gastelum after loss at UFC Vegas 34?

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UFC Fight Night: Cannonier v Gastelum Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone with UFC Vegas 34 going down inside UFC APEX last Sat. night (Aug. 21, 2021) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Roosevelt Roberts, who was knocked out by Ignacio Bahamondes via dazzling wheel kick (see it again here).

And Brandon Royval, who was submitted by Alexandre Pantoja by rear naked choke. But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Kelvin Gastelum.

Coming into his headlining bout against Jared Cannonier, Gastelum was eyeing a much-needed win after getting picked apart by former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in his previous fight. The former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 winner also needed the victory in order to keep his spot in the Top 10 club.

Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned for the 29 year-old veteran, who wound up losing a unanimous decision to “Killa Gorilla,” giving him his second straight loss and dropping him to 1-5 in his last six fights.

It’s not really a streak a former title contender usually has, especially one who still has the tools to hang with some of the best fighters on the planet. Since 2019, Gastelum has fought nothing but the cream of the crop and has been competitive in most of those fights. But Gastelum’s lone win since 2019 is against Ian Heinisch, who isn’t ranked in the Top 15.

Despite another setback, Gastelum isn't going to let it bring him completely down because he truly feels he isn’t too far off from being the best of the best.

“Congratulations to Jared Cannonier on a very competitive fight,” he wrote on Twitter. “Small adjustments and we’re back on top! Tonight just proved that! We’re very close to being the best in the world. Almost there and on to the next one!”

Making adjustments is indeed what Gastelum needs to do to steer his ship back in the right direction. He can always drop down to welterweight but making 170 pounds has always been a challenge for him. Changing camps is also a route some struggling fighters do, but it wouldn’t behoove Gastelum in this case because he is set up with a tremendous gym at Kings MMA with one of the best trainers in the world in Rafael Cordeiro.

Only Gastelum and his team know what needs to change in order for him to get back to the place where he was starching veterans such as Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort. The only thing we can do is guess who he will face in his comeback fight.

For my money, a fight against Brad Tavares makes sense. The Hawaiian scrapper is currently on a two-fight win streak, but he is sitting outside of the Top 10 at No. 13, while Gastelum is holding strong at No. 9. It’s a fight that benefits both athletes because Tavares can break through to becoming one of the 10 best 185-pound fighters in the world.

In Gastelum’s case, getting back into the win column is the goal here to simply prevent falling further down the 185-pound ladder and to remind the combat sports world he is far from done.

For complete UFC Vegas 34 results and coverage click here.