Following Israel Adesanya’s win over Anderson Silva at UFC 234, Kelvin Gastelum’s arguing the rising star hasn’t earned a title shot just yet. Is he right?
Not long after the Adesanya – Silva fight was booked, Dana White announced that the winner of the fight would secure a shot at the middleweight crown. At the time, that decision prompted some criticisms, but most of them were tied to the fact that Silva has just one official win since 2012.
Well, as you surely know, Adesanya proceeded to earn a decision win over Silva on Saturday night. As a result, Adesanya is calling for the title shot he was told he’d earn, if he beat the legend. Gastelum, as noted, has a different take on the situation.
While appearing on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show more recently, the heavy-handed fighter had this to say about Adesanya and his performance at UFC 234 (quotes via Bloody Elbow) (note: Gastelum has been claiming / trolling that he’s the middleweight champ now, because Robert Whittaker couldn’t defend the belt on Saturday due to a hernia).
“He beat a 43-year old Anderson Silva. I’m not sure that’s a claim for a title shot. But if the UFC decides he’s No. 1 contender and gets to skips the five guys in front of him, then so be it. I guess I will fight the No. 1 contender and defend my title.
“He’s not over-hyped. I mean it is in a way but he deserves it. He talks well, fights well, but the performance he showed on Saturday was not title-worthy in my opinion. It was all just very exciting theatrics. When I fight, I put guys away. He wasn’t able to put a 43-year old Anderson away. I felt I would’ve done a different sort of job.”
Does Gastelum have a point here?
Well, from a meritocratic perspective, some folks probably agree with Gastelum. After all, Silva is currently ranked #15 in the 185 division, and while the win moved Adesanya into the #5 ranking, there are still four fighters ahead of him. Further, it is true that the bout ended up being more competitive than many predicted.
That said, Whittaker has already defeated the #1 ranked Yoel Romero twice, and the #3 positioned “Jacare” Souza once. Luke Rockhold is ranked #2, but by all indications, his run at 185 is over. So, in other words, there’s not a lot of options for a challenger, aside from the #4 ranked Gastelum and Adesanya.
Further, there’s no denying that Adesanya has a ton of buzz right now, due to his electrifying fighting style and his 16-0 run in pro-MMA. The fact he’s not shy on the mic hasn’t hurt his cause either.
So, considering all that, in this day-and-age of the sport, should anyone really be surprised that Adesanya’s in the position he is? In fact, if Whittaker is able to return sooner than later, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if “The Last Style Bender” leaped past Gastelum.