I have already voiced my disdain for The Ultimate Fighter, but there has been a silver lining, and that silver lining goes by the name of Kelvin Gastelum. He was not necessarily a standout on his season of The Ultimate Fighter, but he did not complain and put the work in. He upset a couple guys on the way to the finale, but was pegged as a heavy underdog against the maniacal Uriah Hall. Gastelum took the fight to Hall and ended up taking a decision in a fight where everyone blamed Hall for not being in the fight mentally. Gastelum then submitted Brian Melancon in spectacular fashion, which definitely put him on the radar.
So far, Gastelum has shown some serious potential. He fights like he has a career’s worth of experience, knows when to go for the finish, and has refused to be intimidated by an opponent. The really scary thing about Gastelum is that he is only 22 years old. That means that what we are seeing now is literally only the tip of the iceberg. Even if he does not shoot up the rankings right away or takes a couple losses here and there, as long as he can keep learning form every fight, I would not be surprised to see him fight for a title in his career.
In my opinion, Gastelum is The Ultimate Fighter’s last hope for credibility. The last couple of seasons have seriously fallen on their face when it came to building stars, and the focus has shifted from the fighters to the coaches, which is the wrong way of doing things. Gastelum has the chance to say The Ultimate Fighter still finds great fighters. I hope he can capitalize on this opportunity.