This past Saturday night in the featured prelim at UFC 287, we saw a big time matchup in the middleweight division. Former Ultimate Fighter winner and interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum (18-8) was making his return against “The Action Man” Chris Curtis (30-10).
For Kelvin Gastelum, he entered the octagon having gone just 1-5 in his last six fights. This was a must-win fight for him after this rough stretch. Chris Curtis was looking to pickup the biggest win of his career on Saturday night as well.
When Kelvin Gastelum fought Israel Adesanya a few years ago, he was the kind of guy you could see becoming a world champion. However, we hadn’t seen that version of Gastelum since then. Well, that version of Kelvin Gastelum showed up at UFC 287.
Gastelum was light on his feet and his cardio was on point. From the opening bell, Gastelum was giving Curtis fits with his speed and his crisp boxing. Chris Curtis is known for having some of the best boxing in the division and he did get his shots in.
However, for the first two rounds, Kelvin Gastelum was beating him to the punch. Lighting quick left straights and combos were filling things up. Now, he did fade a little in the third, but he still did good enough to earn a unanimous decision across the board.
Who is next after UFC 287?
This was a massive win for Kelvin Gastelum. It’s not just about getting the win, it’s about the way he looked. This was the first time we’ve seen that version of Gastelum in a very long time. He looked like a legit title contender at UFC 287.
So, with this win, he’s back in the top eleven in the official rankings. Who should he fight next? I think there are a couple of options for the promotion. If they want to move Gastelum up quickly, they could have him take on Curtis’ lead training partner Sean Strickland.
Strickland is coming off of a win against Nassourdine Imavov and that would be a sensational matchup. If they want Gastelum to take on someone around his own ranking, I like the fight with Imavov. These two were supposed to fight earlier this year before Gastelum suffered a nasty cut and had to pull out. Imavov is ranked right behind Gastelum and that would make for an excellent fight.