UFC Saudi Arabia: Overweight Kelvin Gastelum Too Much for Daniel Rodriguez

Kelvin Gastelum and Daniel Rodriguez, UFC Saudi Arabia
Kelvin Gastelum and Daniel Rodriguez, UFC Saudi Arabia ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Youtube/UFC

Saturday’s UFC Saudi Arabia was not without its share of turmoil, thanks to a bevy of cancellations and last minute opponent swaps. The drama didn’t stop there, however, as Kelvin Gastelum had struggled with his weight through training camp, resulting in his fight with Daniel Rodriguez being bumped up a division.

The now-middleweight contest found Gastelum with just one win in his last four, while opponent Daniel Rodriguez had dropped two straight.

The fight began with the two fighters engaged immediately in the center of the octagon. D-Rod began to move around on the outside and popped out the jab. Kelvin caught a kick from Rodriguez who momentarily went to the ground. Both men began to box on the feet trying to find their respective ranges. Gastelum showed off some good head movement while looking for the jab-cross combination. About midway thru the round and Kelvin ripped a punch to the body and a shot to the head, before again connecting to the head with an overhand. D-Rod was still using lateral movement, but he was coming up a little short on some of his punches.

With about 90 seconds left in the round, Gastelum landed a flurry of punches up against the cage. Daniel responded with landing a boxing flurry of his own in the center of the octagon. With seconds left in the round, Kelvin had Rodriguez cornered against the cage and was looking to land a big overhand left. Daniel defended himself well and returned with a few shots of his own before the round ended.

To open the second round, Kelvin immediately landed a leg kick as Daniel moved around throwing his jab. Gastelum ate a few punches and slipped a few punches continuing to move towards his opponent. Daniel snapped Kelvin’s head back with a shot as Gastelum continued to march forward. Rodriguez started to land his jab a little more at will and followed it up with a cross. Kelvin landed a well-timed double leg takedown, but Daniel was able to return to his feet and absorbed minimal damage.

Rodriguez was throwing good punch combinations and switched between targeting the body and head of Gastelum. With about a minute left in the round, Gastelum landed a nice leg kick followed up by a punch that snapped Daniel’s head back. Daniel was able to come right back and land some good short counters on his opponent. In the literal final second of the round, Kelvin was able to land an easy takedown.

In the opening seconds of the final round, Kelvin looked quick and springy on his feet, as he moved in and out of range. Rodriguez was able to land a few shots but looked a tad bit slower. Gastelum kept moving in an out of range and landed the leg kick and blocked a lot of the punches that came back in his direction with his arms. Midway through the round, and Kelvin pressured his opponent to the cage and landed a powerful takedown. Gastelum landed in side-control, smothering his opponent and landing short strikes. Kelvin moved to modified mount and landed some more powerful strikes before D-Rod kicked him off with about 30 seconds left to go. It was short lived, as Gastelum was able to successfully time another double leg takedown. Gastelum landed ground and pound in as the final seconds of the fight ticked away.

In his post-fight interview Gastelum Kelvin addressed ‘the elephant in the room’,  saying “I’m sorry what happened this week is unacceptable.” He want on to add that “I will be better,” emotionally apologizing to fans, Daniel Rodriguez and UFC brass while acknowledging that missing weight has been a reoccurring problem for him.

Official Result: Kelvin Gastelum def. Daniel Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)