It’s no secret that former middleweight and Mexican-American UFC rising star Kelvin Gastelum has had issues making weight to fight in the welterweight division. It’s also no secret that he’s been ruminating the possibility of moving back up to middleweight.
Now that possibility is a reality, and it has a date on the calendar. Kelvin Gastelum is officially set to make his UFC middleweight return on June 13th, at UFC 188, in Mexico City. The UFC made the announcement on Tuesday, March 24th. The main event on that card is the heavyweight unification title bout between Fabricio Werdum—who won the interim title versus the slugging Mark Hunt in Mexico City last year at UFC 180—and the formidable and seemingly unbeatable Cain Velasquez. In his 185-pound debut, Gastelum will face veteran and current middle-of-the-pack fighter, Nate Marquardt.
Gastelum first fought in Mexico City at UFC 180—the UFC’s first function in Mexico—when he tapped out Jake Ellenberger by rear-naked choke in the first round of their contest. Following a successful run in The Ultimate Fighter 17 as a middleweight—he won the tournament by defeating Uriah Hall in a split decision at the finale—Gastelum had a meteoric rise in the welterweight division, even if he had troubles with the weight-cutting process. He began his success with a rear-naked choke win over Brian Melancon, and until his last fight, Gastelum remained undefeated.
Gastelum first missed weight before fighting Nico Musoke in San Antonio, Texas, last summer, but he still beat him in a unanimous decision. On his last outing, however, versus Tyron Woodley, Gastelum missed weight yet again, but this time was unable to pull off a triumph. Woodley defeated Gastelum in a split decision after a fight that left fans disappointed, ensuing a barrage of booing.
Following that unspectacular fight and in light of Gastelum’s weight-cutting problems, UFC President Dana White said that Gastelum needs to move up in weight-class.
Nate Marquardt also had a run in the welterweight division. While in Strikeforce, he defeated Tyron Woodley for the promotion’s vacant title. He lost the strap on his next fight versus the promising Belgian Tarec Saffiedine. Following that loss, Marquardt returned to the UFC, still as a welterweight, and suffered back-to-back knockout losses versus Jake Ellenberger and Hector Lombard. He returned to the middleweight division after that, redeeming himself by beating James Te Huna with a first-round armbar. He lost his last fight, versus Brad Tavares, in a unanimous decision at UFC 182 this past January.
Currently, UFC 188 in Mexico City has the following card:
Cain Velásquez vs. Fabricio Werdum
Gilbert Melendez vs. Eddie Alvarez
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nate Marquardt
Dodger Montaño vs. Cathal Pendred
Yair Rodríguez vs. Charles Rosa
Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill
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