In the years that I have been watching mixed martial arts, I have learned a couple of things: never get excited about amazing fights that get announced because they probably won’t happen, a free fight is a good fight no matter what and Ultimate Fighter Winners will not become champions. As of late, I have been dead wrong about the Ultimate Fighter winners becoming champions because T.J. Dillashaw just grabbed the belt in the Bantamweight division and now there is another fighter on my radar: Kelvin Gastelum.
Last night, Gastelum fought Nicholas Musoke and showed major improvement in his striking. Musoke definitely had the reach advantage and Gastelum figured out that the best way to neutralize that advantage was to be in constant movement. The entire fight Gastelum was on the balls of his feet, bouncing left and right, back and forth and creating super weird angles and using them to set up his strikes. It worked perfectly. Gastelum also started to incorporate kicks into his striking acumen. This was a big surprise because Musoke is an anaconda on the ground, if he can get a limb, he will twist, break and choke until the other guy taps. Instead, Gastelum refused to be intimidated and launched leg kicks, body kicks and even a beautiful left high kick at Musoke.
Every time that Gastelum has jumped into the Octagon, we have seen improvement. First, it was with his power, then it was with his wrestling and submissions and now, his striking has hopped up another level. This is what we should be seeing from an Ultimate Fighter winner — constant and obvious improvement. If he keeps this up, he very well may become the champion.