American mixed martial arts fighter Kelvin Gastelum told how the preparation for the fight with his compatriot Jared Cannonier took place.
As Kelvin Gastelum (17-7 MMA, 11-7 UFC) prepares for this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 29 event with fellow contender Jared Cannonier (13-5 MMA, 6-5 UFC), “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner believes he deserves to be considered among the middleweight division’s elite.
“My team and myself, we still believe that we belong at the top, and we still believe we can take these fights and win these fights,” Gastelum told at Wednesday’s media day at the UFC Apex. “That’s why we’re here.”
Gastelum currently stands at just 1-4 in his past five outings, dating back to April 2019. But the losses include setbacks against current UFC champ Israel Adesanya, former titleholder Robert Whittaker, and a pair of respected contenders in Jack Hermansson and Darren Till.
Kelvin Gastelum has also accepted previous fights under less-than-ideal scenarios, and he said having a full training camp to prepare this time around has been a significant benefit.
“This time they gave me 10 weeks or nine weeks, you know, so I said, ‘Why not?’” Gastelum said. “Let’s actually get some real time to prepare for a good fight, for a top-five fight, and that’s exactly what we got, you know? Thankfully, we got it, and yeah, man, this is by far one of the best camps that I’ve had in – I don’t know if I want to say my career or in a few years, I don’t know – but honestly, it feels great.
“The preparation that we had for this camp was just unlike any other camp that I’ve had, and that’s where my confidence lies right now.”
Kelvin Gastelum said his improvements since an April decision loss to Whittaker have come both in his technical development, as well as his mental growth – something he credits to former UFC dual champ Henry Cejudo.
“I went out and trained with Henry a couple of times for a few weeks, and I got to pick his brain,” Gastelum said. “You know, we get to spend a lot of time and hang out all the time, yeah, but times where we actually get to sit down and I get to pick his brain and the way that we did, that I don’t do it too many times, you know? And I got to pick his brain. I got to learn from him, and I got he got to show me how he structures his training.
“This guy’s a winner, you know? Behind the ‘Triple C’ facade, there’s a really intelligent competitor.”
Despite Gastelum’s recent struggles, he remains a relevant force in the 185-pound division, currently sitting at No. 12 in the latest middleweight rankings. Cannonier is a more immediate title contender at the moment, sitting at No. 4 since dropping a No. 1 contender bout to Whittaker in October.
Kelvin Gastelum says he has full respect for Cannonier’s skills but thinks his past experience will have him well-prepared for the test.
“He’s a very strong fighter, a very strong-willed fighter, a very good fighter, you know, but at the same time, I mean, I’ve been fighting for a long time,” Gastelum said. ‘We know what he brings to the table. I’ve seen what he brings to the table, and I’ve experienced it in the cage, as well, and so we believe we have answers for everything he may bring.”