Kelvin Gastelum has a special message attached to all his social media accounts that may be out of date if his next two fights go according to plan: #OnAMission4Gold.
The 26-year-old middleweight enters UFC 224 on Saturday without a title shot on his resume, but feels an early finish against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the co-main event will lead to his first chance at becoming a champion.
“I feel like I need to beat him and make a statement,” Gastelum told. “If I don’t make a statement, I don’t think I’ll be able to contend for the title next. But if I go in there and knock him out in the first round, then I have no doubt that the next fight will be for the title.”
The 26-year-old’s hope for a first-round finish certainly isn’t out of the question, as he stopped Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort – both fights coming after his move to middleweight – in the opening minutes, though his win over Belfort was ruled a no contest after Gastelum tested positive for marijuana. Souza poses a tough challenge for Gastelum, having been knocked out just once since 2008.
Gastelum is currently fifth in the middleweight rankings while Souza sits second, with the belt being defended by Robert Whittaker against Yoel Romero in June.
“It means more than being a UFC champion – it means being a champion in life,” Gastelum said. “I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles in life … it would mean much more than just a UFC championship. That no matter where we come from, we can achieve whatever we want.”
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