The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum looked terrific in his welterweight debut but will get a major test at UFC 171 against hard-nosed veteran Rick Story. Gastelum rose to prominence as the underdog winner of TUF when he shocked the heavily favoured Uriah Hall in the middleweight final. Shortly after earning his UFC contract Gastelum made the decision to drop to 170 pounds and impressed at Fight Night 27 in submitting Brian Melancon.
The 22-year old Gastelum certainly has showcased the skills to be regarded as an exciting prospect. He’s 7-0 and has finished six of his opponents. He has power, tremendous strength, and has exhibited a solid chin in his brief Octagon career. It’s a major step up in competition for Gastelum against the no. 14 ranked Story who has faced much stiffer competition over the course of his Octagon career.
Story is a seasoned competitor who’s managed to compile a respectable 9-5 UFC record. His most impressive career victory to date came against UFC 171 headliner Johny Hendricks. “The Horror” also bested Thiago Alves and has faced the likes of Martin Kampmann, Demian Maia and Mike Pyle. Story was last seen at UFC 167 recording a unanimous decision win over Brian Ebersole. He’s forged a reputation as a hard-charging pressure fighter and is tough as nails having never been knocked out.
With so much jockeying in the new welterweight landscape, this matchup has the potential to be a highly entertaining affair. Gastelum will be looking to prove he’s ready for top-flight competition and a victory over Story could lead to a top-10 opponent next. Story has worked hard to secure his placement inside the top-15 and doesn’t want to prove to be a stepping stone for the surging youngster.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports