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Kelvin Gastelum compares Shavkat Rakhmonov to Israel Adesanya, expects 2024 title shot with win

UFC 287: Curtis v Gastelum Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Kelvin Gastelum landed a big fight for his return to the Welterweight division.

It’s been seven years since Gastelum last fought at 170 pounds. That changes at UFC Las Vegas on Sept. 16, 2023, however, as The Ultimate Fighter 17 (TUF) winner drops back down to collide with No. 6-ranked contender, Shavkat Rakhmonov.

The undefeated 17-0 finishing sensation, Rakhmonov, has drawn comparisons to a past opponent for Gastelum. If accurate by the time things are all said and done, Gastelum may be in for quite the war.

“I’m actually comparing him to [Israel] Adesanya,” Gastelum told The Schmo. “When I fought Adesanya, he was another up-and-coming guy that was undefeated, rising star, kind of similar situation that I’m in now. I’m fighting Rakhmonov, he’s a rising contender, undefeated prospect. Man, this is gonna be a fun fight, a fun challenge for me.”

Gastelum’s lone career title opportunity came opposite Adesanya at Middleweight in an April 2019 interim title affair. The two put on an all-time classic, exchanging blows until the final bell where Adesanya earned the unanimous decision nod.

While Gastelum’s success has been minimal since his “Fight of the Year” effort, his last time out against Chris Curtis saw him return to vintage form, earning a unanimous decision win. In 2024, the 31-year-old contender can see the stars aligning for his big moment at Welterweight.

“I can very well be fighting for the world title next year, that’s the goal,” Gastelum said. “I win this fight — I feel like I’m fighting the No. 1 contender at Welterweight. I don’t think there’s a clear contender other than Colby [Covington] but Colby’s coming off a win or a loss? I don’t remember. I just don’t see any clear contenders other than Shavkat and Shavkat now has a fight with me.

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