The UFC has finalized a big time middleweight matchup for April featuring two ranked contenders. Alex Behunin was the first to report last night that former interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum (17-8) will be taking on “The Action Man” Chris Curtis (30-9).
The matchup goes down at UFC 287 which will take place on April 8th. For Gastelum, he will finally get back into the octagon after a number of fights fell through last year. In April last year, Gastelum was scheduled to face Nassourdine Imavov and Dricus Du Plessis. Both fights fell through.
Then, he was supposed to headline the UFC’s first event of 2023 against Imavov. However, an accidental knee in training forced him off the card and once again, he had a cancelled bout. We haven’t seen Gastelum compete since August of 2021.
It’s been a rough stretch for Gastelum. After a hot start in the middleweight division, Gastelum had a war with Israel Adesanya for the interim title. After that battle, many expected Gastelum to be a force at 185. However, starting with that bout, he’s just 1-5 in his last six. He needs a win in the worst way.
Chris Curtis made his UFC debut back in 2021 and he couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Curtis won his first three fights which included knockouts over Brendan Allen and Phil Hawes. His three wins earned him a shot against Jack Hermansson.
The fight failed to live up to expectations and Curtis had a tough time getting started. He ultimately lost a decision to Hermansson. Then, he took on Joaquin Buckley at UFC 282. This fight had a ton of action and Curtis scored a second round knockout moving him to 4-1 inside the octagon.
This is a tale of two fighters going in opposite directions. Both need this win for different reasons. Gastelum needs to bounce back while Curtis needs to continue riding his momentum towards the top of the middleweight division.