UFC Saudi Arabia Preview and Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum – Daniel Rodriguez

Tomorrow the UFC makes it’s way to Saudi Arabia for the first time and they’re bringing a very solid Fight Night card with them. On the main card is a welterweight matchup between former middleweight title challenger and Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum (18-9) and Daniel Rodriguez (17-4).

This fight is supposed to take place at 170, however, at the time of writing this preview a lot is up in the air. Daniel Rodriguez said at media day that he’s already agreed to have the fight at 185 pounds with word coming out that Gastelum won’t make 170. Gastelum said himself that he was very concerned about the weight.

We will move forward previewing assuming this fight goes down at 185. This was supposed to be Gastelum’s second fight since re-dedicating himself to being professional and fighting at welterweight. Gastelum had a solid run at 185 including challenging for the interim UFC title. However, a 2-5 stretch had him rethinking things.

He moved to 170 for his last fight and looked great physically. However, he was dominated and submitted by Sean Brady. This was supposed to be a redemption fight, but his lack of professionalism with the weight cut is once again shining through this week.

Daniel Rodriguez told the media that he’s agreed to 185 but he was frustrated because he would have to add weight back on. He was already at 179 pounds on his way to making the contracted 170. This is a huge fight for D-Rod and he said regardless of the weight, he was fighting Kelvin Gastelum.

D-Rod was 7-1 in his first eight UFC fights with the lone loss being a razor close decision loss to Nicolas Dalby. After that loss, he won four fights in a row, but all that momentum has been halted. He’s lost back-to-back fights both by finish most recently to Ian Garry. With the losses, he’s dropped out of the rankings and needs a win tomorrow to get back going.

UFC Saudi Arabia Prediction

I think this is actually a really good matchup for Kelvin Gastelum. It’s not fair to D-Rod, but it’s only going to help Gastelum that he won’t have to deplete himself to make 170. Rodriguez is a great striker from the outside with solid technique and decent power. However, Gastelum is the faster and more explosive fighter.

Gastelum also has much better wrestling and can take this fight down should he need to if the striking isn’t going his way. The only way Rodriguez wins this fight is if Gastelum is a stationary target on the outside and they are point-striking. I just don’t see that happening at UFC Saudi Arabia.

I think the combination of speed, movement, and wrestling is going to be too much for Rodriguez. He’s as tough as they come so I’m not going with a Gastelum finish, but I think he does plenty to win at least two rounds.

Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum by Decision

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