Ultimate Fighter champion (TUF) and title threat in two divisions, Kelvin Gastelum, will face the recently dethroned middleweight pivot, Michael Bisping, this Saturday (November 25, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 122 inside Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.
The title threat in two divisions is an accurate descriptor of Kelvin Gastelum if it is frustrating.
At welterweight, Gastelum moved quickly to the top five and seemed to be approaching a title shot before diet problems sent him to Middleweight (again). At 185 pounds, he proved to be an elite fighter with the ability to potentially beat anyone, but Chris Weidman also showed that size matters when connecting to his smaller foe for most of the fight.
Regardless of the weight category, Gastelum remains an incredibly talented fighter that demonstrates just how effective the basics are when done correctly. Let's take a closer look at your skill set.
Gastelum is a somewhat frustrating fighter to analyze due to his general game of meat and potatoes. This is especially true of the feet, since Gastelum repeatedly punches his opponent with the complex combination of the blow and the cross. At 1-2 they were assigned those numbers because they are literally the first shots and the first combination you learn as a boxer, but Gastelum does most of his work with that combination.
Of course, there is a reason why Gastelum is so successful. On the feet, he is much more agile than most of his teammates in any weight class. Along with that fluid movement, Gastelum packs fast hands and power that does not require charged blows.
For Gastelum, it all starts with the jab. That may not be the usual weapon of choice for Southpaws, but Gastelum does a fantastic job of stabbing his opponent's nose, regardless of his stance. His jab is quick and bold, the perfect setting for his power shots. Often, Gastelum likes to reach out and fight by hand before intervening with the real blow.
Although he is a strong fighter, Gastelum does an excellent job keeping the distance through the jab. In front of men who prefer to fight from the inside like Johny Hendricks and Tim Kennedy, Gastelum really does an excellent job of hitting them in the face while trying to advance (GIF) .
Following Gastelum jab is usually a long left ladder, which looks like a piston that shoots from its movement to the middle weight (GIF). Again, there is nothing too extraordinary about how Gastelum sets his left, but he throws it aggressively and has a solid sense of distance. Often, it is a simple matter of walking outwards and putting your cross in the middle. Since your jab is such an effective weapon, you can stun your opponent long enough for the cross to land cleanly. In particular, Gastelum reads the defenses of his opponents quite well and will find a hole with his left hand. He is quite unpleasant with the uppercut on the left, which he commonly throws while his opponent is pressed against the fence (GIF) .
Tenderness is also a major factor in the configuration of the left hand (GIF). Gastelum constantly finishes and uses false starts to hide his real entrances, and the result is clean blows that land on an unsuspecting opponent. The lies and false starts are fundamental to the game of Gastelum, and are the theme of the most outstanding technique this week.
FOF KELVIN GASTELUM
Perhaps the most forgotten aspect of Gastelum's game is his kick. Gastelum still has to really dedicate himself to knocking down his opponent, but he commonly starts his fights with some hard, external kicks inside. He also managed to release Story with a kick in the head, which is becoming a more common weapon for him. Like many Southpaws, Gastelum plays with the double threat of the left cross and the high kick against the orthodox opponents.
In the same way, Gastelum's body kicks have become an increasingly effective part of their game. In addition, Gastelum used a step of the left knee in the middle section opposite Nate Marquardt. Entering to close the distance completely after immobilizing his opponent on the fence, these knees took their breath away and helped to establish the subsequent knockout with punches.
Like the rest of his game, Gastelum has not shown any previously seen or particularly rare takedowns. It's a simple technique, but he does it with such speed and fluidity that Gastelum managed to knock down excellent fighters.
Generally, Gastelum is looking for his two leg shoot down. While he can work for the shot against the fence, Gastelum often looks for his knockdown in the center of the Octagon, where he can really explode through the shot.
A solid example of Gastelum's offensive struggle came in his fight with Jake Ellenberger. "The Juggernaut" marked his enemy with a hard punch and tried to swarm, but Gastelum returned with a reactive double leg. Ellenberger – who is the same explosive athlete – defended initially with strong hips. However, Gastelum simply did not stop, as he went through the knockdown in a kind of double leg / knee hybrid.
In addition, Gastelum often seeks to hit the head of his opponent. While he will look for it after a failed double, a very common tactic in wrestling, Gastelum will often grab his opponent's head directly from the regular grip and attempt to knock him down immediately.
Despite his experience as a fighter, Gastelum seems to attack more often than not. Since it has become so effective in that area, it means that your takedown defense is tested often, and it stays pretty good. Gastelum is light on his feet and moves constantly, which helps him avoid many of his attempts to take down enemies. Unless they can time it come too much, it usually moves too far for its opponent to form a double leg. In any case, Gastelum's expansion is heavy enough to stop the shot more often than not.
In Welterweight, Gastelum only fought with the takedowns of Neil Magny, a clumsy-neck fighter. It's worth noting that I was training for Matt Brown, a very different wrestler and fighter. In spite of that, Gastelum fought to stop those demolitions, since Magny would close his hands and hold on to Gastelum until the young athlete fell.
Since then, Gastelum seems to have improved. Tim Kennedy pursued a similar clinch-heavy approach, but Gastelum's ability to stand up and fight hands from the back grip quickly exhausted Kennedy. In a short time, Kennedy was a duck sitting on his feet.
Standing up again is definitely a strength of the Arizona native. He is quick to turn his back and stand up, fighting against his hands to avoid control. If his opponent stays, Gastelum does a good job of pressing his enemy to avoid a big blow and give himself the opportunity to take control. In addition, Gastelum will look at his shoulder frequently, which helps him fight.
Against Weidman, however, Gastelum's fight was not enough. It made Weidman work and it was difficult to control from the beginning, but it is exhausting to have a bigger fighter that weighs you down while you work hard to escape. Finally, Gastelum's revolts were less explosive, and Weidman was able to focus on damage and shipments instead of just control.
A purple belt in jiu-jitsu, Gastelum has proved to be an opportunistic finalist on the mat That has not been a fundamental part of his game lately, but Gastelum is definitely someone who quickly returns to his roots after stun an opponent.
For fighters who learn jiu-jitsu and try to send fighters into MMA, the back choke has always been the target. It is simple and generally requires nothing more than the correct position and persistence. In the case of Gastelum, it sticks out when hooked to the naked back choke during twists. Regardless of whether he is working from the turtle position or has simply shaken his opponent, Gastelum is always looking for the opportunity to immerse himself in his opponent's neck.
In summary, Gastelum is excellent for capitalizing small lapses in the concentration of your opponent. The focus is obviously important in a fight, especially when the naked back choke is in play, but many things are happening in a fight. While Gastelum's opponent is trying to figure out how to block his little punches, stand up or recover from a knockdown, Gastelum is waiting for the moment his attention shifts just enough to hide his arm under his chin ( GIF) .
Gastelum is a great fighter caught in a strange position that is largely his work. In Welterweight, it was a threat of impending title. That position is less secure at 185 pounds, since the loss of Weidman definitely took some of the wind out of his sails. The starch of Michael Bisping, as the creators of odds seem to hope, will raise some positions in the ranking, but it will take more than one victory to erase the memory of being mistreated by "The All-American". Realistically, Gastelum should continue to campaign for a return to 170 lbs., Where his chance to wear the belt is stronger.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian violet jiu-jitsu belt, is an amateur champion who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has explored opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport's most elite fighters.