UFC Fight Night 44: Kelvin Gastelum Poised To Continue Rapid Climb Up Welterweight Ladder
Kelvin Gastelum will look to maintain his perfect record when he tangles with Nicholas Musoke this weekend at UFC Fight Night 44 in San Antonio. The former winner of the Ultimate Fighter has produced back-to-back victories since making the move down to the welterweight division and has emerged as a rising star. Musoke has also impressed in his relatively brief Octagon tenure.
The 22-year old Gastelum initially made headlines in the middleweight ranks, but abandoned the 185-pound weight class after claiming the TUF 17 crown by outworking Uriah Hall in a major upset. He felt the welterweight division would prove to be a better fit for his skills, and that logic has paid immediate dividends.
Gastelum earned a first-round submission win over Brian Melancon at Fight Night 27, and followed that up with a split-decision verdict over Rick Story in a thrilling affair at UFC 171.
Gastelum is off to an 8-0 start and has recorded six of those wins by knockout or submission. He has tremendous power, solid grappling and submission skills. Gastelum also showed a sturdy chin in the Story fight as he was tagged by some solid punches from the rugged veteran.
Another victory would definitely have the no. 11-ranked Gastelum entering top-10 territory, and would continue to strengthen his case as being one of the best young prospects in the entire promotion. He’s brimming with confidence and will be looking to continue his impressive ways against the surging Musoke.
Musoke is unbeaten in his last eight fights and is 2-0 inside the Octagon. The Swedish fighter made waves by submitting veteran Alessio Sakara in his UFC debut, and followed that up with a unanimous decision win over Viscardi Andrade at Fight Night 36 in Brazil. ”Nico” has shown an ability to finish fights, with nine of his 12 career wins having come by knockout or submission. He hasn’t tasted defeat since a decision loss in 2011 at the hands of Cathal Pendred.
This is an intriguing fight between two hungry welterweights enjoying plenty of career momentum. Gastelum is intent on working his way into future title contention, and another victory would certainly land him more high-profile matchups. Musoke is getting the biggest test of his career, and can make quite a statement if he can become the first man to knock off Gastelum.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports