The second UFC card slated for airing on Fox Sports 1 just lost a key match as Paulo Thiago (15-5) suffered a left knee injury that will force him out of his scheduled bout with TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum (6-0). Gastelum was supposed to be making the cut to welterweight for UFC Fight Night 27 on August 28. Now he may have to wait, unless the UFC can find a worthy opponent to replace Thiago on short notice.
Though Thiago had much more experience in the cage than the youngest TUF winner in history, he could have been facing his last bout in the Octagon due to some less-than-stellar fights in recent years. Thiago lost four of his last six fights, and if he fell to Gastelum, it would be hard for the UFC brass to justify keeping him on the roster.
UFC Fight Night 27 on Fox Sports 1 is headlined by a rematch of a 2009 fight between Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann. Their second meeting in Indianapolis will give Condit a chance to avenge the loss he suffered in their thrilling first bout. The card also features three other TUF 17 veterans: Dylan Andrews, Bubba McDaniel and Zak Cummings.
The UFC has 77 welterweights listed on their official company roster, including multiple fighters with records that are more evenly matched with Gastelum’s.
One fighter who seems like a perfect stand-in for Thiago is TUF 16 winner Colton Smith (6-2), who is coming off a TKO loss to Robert Whittaker (12-2) at UFC 160. Whittaker is already lined up to fight Court McGee (15-3) on the same UFC Fight Night 27 card. Smith’s medical suspension just ended on July 10, but he’ll have over a month to train for Gastelum if he’s asked to take the fight.
Whoever faces Gastelum will be tangling with one of the most promising fighters the UFC has ever discovered. With his talent level and young age, Gastelum seems destined to be a world champion someday.