Gastelum ready for ‘The Ultimate Fighter' finale tonight; UFC contract on the line
Kelvin Gastelum doesn't just have an opponent to worry about.
He doesn't just have a live, national TV audience to deal with.
He's got his future to think about, too.
The Cibola graduate is set to face Uriah Hall at 6 p.m. today in Las Vegas in the finale of the 17th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The fight is live on FX, and the winner receives a contract with the UFC.
“It's a lot of pressure, but I kind of try to block it all out and focus on performing,” Gastelum said in a phone interview with the Yuma Sun on Friday after weigh-ins. “That's really all it is. UFC is the biggest stage in the world. I'm really excited.”
Gastelum survived the reality show, which filmed late last year. The winner is crowned live tonight.
For Gastelum (5-0) to be that winner, he'll have to top Hall (7-2).
“We kept in touch mildly, like posting on Facebook, but not very often,” Gastelum said. “He's a great guy and I got nothing bad to say about him. I'm just going have to put pressure on him to take him down.”
Gastelum said his last fight on the reality show was in early December, even though it aired Tuesday. Although those bouts don't count toward a fighter's official record, he said they are the same as any other match.
“The other guys are professionals,” said Gastelum, who's last official fight was a 53-second match against Mike Ashford in Rage in the Cage 161 in Chandler, the third knockout of his career. “I don't really think of it as any different.”
Gastelum is searching to not only become the second TUF champ from Yuma — Efrain Escudero when the eighth edition on the reality show — but, at 21, will become the youngest TUF champ.
“It was a great experience,” Gastelum said. “I was surrounded by a great group of guys and it went well.”