Kelvin Gastelum Expects UFC 236 Defeat to Make Him ‘Better Person and Mixed Martial Artist’

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 15, 2019

Kelvin Gastelum is taking his close call at UFC 236 in stride.

“The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner released a statement on social media after coming up short in his bid for the interim middleweight crown against Israel Adesanya in Saturday’s co-main event. The bout was extremely competitive, but “The Last Stylebender” put his stamp on the fight with a spectacular fifth stanza that featured three knockdowns and two submission attempts. Gastelum entered the final frame tied with Adesanya on all three judges’ scorecards before the Nigerian-born Kiwi pulled away with a 10-8 round.

“I left it all out there. [Adesanya] was the better man last night! Congratulations to him,” Gastelum wrote late Sunday evening. “I know our paths will cross again! This set back as well as all my other setbacks have made me a better person and mixed martial artist. Im so excited for the future.”

Adesanya vs. Gastelum is an early front runner for 2019 “Fight of the Year,” so it’s no surprise that the bout generated a sense of mutual respect between the two competitors. Adesanya showed as much in his reply to his defeated foe.

It came down to the wire...we both put in on for the culture of fighting,” Adesanya wrote. “You know me and I know you now, this is the fights movies are made of, that 5th round was some legendary s—t. It was only possible cuz I had a man as tough as [Kelvin Gastelum] to dance with. So thank you KG.”

The win will set up a 185-pound title unification bout between Adesanya and undisputed champion Robert Whittaker later this year, assuming all goes as planned. Gastelum, with notable wins over the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Michael Bisping, Tim Kennedy and Johny Hendricks at middleweight, remains a tough out for anyone in the division.


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