In the history of MMA fights, there have never been two opponents that smiled more knowing that in a few days they will have to beat each other down in order to catapult themselves to be the one to hold the coveted, six figure, UFC contract. On April 13, Kelvin Gastelum (5-0) out of Yuma, AZ and Uriah Hall (7-2) out of Queens, NY will battle to become the next Ultimate Fighter.
Known as the underdog who rallied in every bout to cause an upset, Kelvin even surprised Coach Sonnen who said he’s never seen a prospect improve as much as Kelvin did in such a short period of time. Kelvin said the experience of working with Chael wasn’t what he expected at all.
“Obviously, I would have thought that he’d play up to his character that we see on camera and stuff, but no. The Chael Sonnen that you guys see on the show is the real Chael Sonnen. He’s a smart guy, very intelligent and I have a lot of respect for him for being there for us. He was always there for us.”
As he heads into the finale against Uriah “Prime Time” Hall, Kelvin now finds himself going up against a man who has put all four opponents he’s faced thus far in the tournament in the hospital. Even so, Kelvin isn’t shook, unnerved about the upcoming battle, or showing any signs of anxiety. And unlike some of the other competitors in the house, Kelvin doesn’t have any ill will towards his former teammate.
“It’s a new experience for me,” Kelvin said of having to fight someone he likes. “I had a pretty good relationship with Uriah in the house and I liked him. So, I have to create some sort of dislike for him. I have to create it in my head and believe it in my mind that I don’t like him. For 15 minutes I have to believe that.”
For at least six weeks Kelvin and Uriah were amicable with each other. They’d often find themselves working opposite each other training. Though some of the other castmates had said that Hall was too aggressive in sparring sessions during the show, Kelvin said he had no problem with Hall pouring it on and would often step in to work with him.
“We’d go in there and we’d bang. Some of the guys would say ‘Hey, he goes too hard’. I’d go in and step in there for those guys,” Gastelum stated. “Obviously, he got it a little bit better in the stand up. We’d go in there and bang. I’d take him down, he had good take down defense for sure. He’s good, he’s strong, athletic, powerful.”
Knowing that just days from now, a win could change his future, Gastelum seemed very composed when discussing the upcoming clash. Even if it’s his first time in the Octagon, when the cage door shuts, Kelvin knows it’s time to do what he does best – win.
“I put the pressure onto myself, really. I really want this and I really want to win. That’s what’s at stake, this UFC contract and that’s what I ultimately want. But other than that I don’t feel any pressure, I feel fine. I’m living my dream right now and I couldn’t be any happier.”