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Gastelum to appear on The Ultimate Fighter
Yuma is 1 for 1 in producing The Ultimate Fighter champs.
Kelvin Gastelum already knows if there's still a chance at 2 for 2. Everyone else will find out in April.
The Cibola graduate appeared on the latest season of the UFC reality show, in which the winner gets a contract to fight in mixed-martial arts' most high-profile stage. The show filmed in October but will air starting 7 p.m. Tuesday on FX.
The championship bout between the last two middleweight contenders standing happens live in the spring. Gastelum, obviously, was not allowed to reveal details of the show, including which two fighters make the final.
“Everything was great. I felt like everything went perfect, actually. I can't say the results, but I feel like everything went perfect and I was with the right team and the right group of people and good stuff happened.”
Gastelum was also not able to divulge which team he was on. The 28 prospects are split into two teams: one coached by Chael Sonnen, the other by Jon Jones. Those two will meet for the light heavyweight title on April 27 during UFC 159.
“Before going out to the show, I wanted to be on Chael Sonnen's team,” Gastelum said.
Fellow Cibola graduate Efrain Escudero appeared on the show in 2008 and won, earning him a spot in the UFC. He's had two stints with the UFC but does not have a contract. Current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is a Kofa graduate.
“It helps out a lot seeing them around and seeing what they've done,” Gastelum said. “It definitely helps to be around them and see what they've done and how I can do that better.”
Gastelum said he is the youngest to appear on the show, making the age limit by about a week — contestants must be 21 by the time of filming.
“They told me I'm the youngest competitor in The Ultimate Fighter history. I think that might have been a factor in saying ‘Oh, he's the youngest guy with the least amount of experience.' I think that's what people were saying.”
Gastelum is 5-0 in professional fights, including a Desert Rage event in Yuma in 2011. He graduated from Cibola in 2009 and was a state champion wrestler his senior year.
More than 250 fighters auditioned for a spot. Gastelum said the audition process included some early grappling, then interviews with the producers. Certain applicants stayed in Las Vegas an extra week for drug testing, background checks, MRIs and other tests before the final cast members were selected.
After its two-hour premiere, the show moves to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. The show runs for 13 weeks and ends with a three-hour live finale that will determine the winner.
“Overall the experience was wonderful,” Gastelum said. “It sucked at first because time was going by real slow. Two weeks had gone by and I felt like I'd been there two months. Toward the end time was moving a lot faster.
“Other than that, besides not having any contact with my family, my mother, my sister, my girlfriend, other than that, the experience was perfect. Everything went well. I came out healthy, I didn't come out injured or anything. I made some good friends there at the show and I was real pleased with the team I got and the people I was working with.”