Capping off the televised preliminary card at UFC 287 in Miami, Florida on Saturday night were middleweights Kelvin Gastelum and Chris Curtis.
Gastelum, ten years removed from winning The Ultimate Fighter 17, was looking to right the ship after posting a 1-5 record since 2018. His lone win in that span, which kicked off with an interim title fight loss to Israel Adesanya, had come against Ian Heinisch in February of 2021.
Curtis, now 4-1 in the UFC, was looking at the biggest name of his career in the former TUF champion.
Both men came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, with Gastelum using lateral movement and fierce leg kicks to create angles to land heavy combinations upstairs. Curtis was busted open early on, but picked up steam as the fight continued, digging hard to the body and rolling with counters coming his way.
Gastelum was able to bring the fight to the mat in the second frame, raining down vicious ground and pound before Curtis was able to escape to his feet. Following a back-and-forth third and final round, the fight ended as an all-out slugfest that was likely tough to score from a judge’s perspective.
Gastelum would secure the unanimous decision victory, picking up a crucial win over a game opponent following over a year away from the cage. The former title contender will look to fight a top-10 middleweight in his next time out, while it’s back to the drawing board for Curtis despite putting a very solid performance.
— UFC (@ufc) April 9, 2023
Following the win, Kevlin Gastelum could hardly contain himself, leading to a fired-up post-fight interview with UFC analyst Joe Rogan. The TUF champ exclaimed that he had done a lot more than vacation during his year and a half off. That certainly showed on Saturday.
Official Result: Kelvin Gastelum def. Chris Curtis by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)