Saturday, March 11, 2016, main event begins at 11.50 pacific time, Fortaleza, Brazil
Belfort – 25 – 13 – 0
Gastelum – 13 – 2 – 0
Vitor Belfort (+285 with Bovada.lv)
Gastlum: (-375 with Bovada.lv)
It is the old man vs the up-and-comer in Brazil as 20-year MMA veteran Vitor Belfort takes on 25-year-old former The Ultimate Fighter competitor Kelvin Gastelum.
He may be coming to the end of his illustrious career, but Belfort is still chasing the challenge inside the octagon.
Belfort said he is bucking the recent trend of selective fight strategy by taking on a dangerous opponent who could potentially end his career.
“I want to fight guys that are relevant,” Belfort said.
“I just don’t want to pick fights – because fighters are now picking fights that they have a probability to win. The sport is becoming not like it used to be before. Now, fighters are taking fights that, ‘I think I can win this.’
“I think I’m the older generation, where we want to make fans happy with fights and fights that bring challenges and Kelvin is a guy who brings that challenge.”
Kelvin Gastelum, who took out The Ultimate Fighter 17, comes into the fight after a recent run of failures in attempts to make the170-pound limit.
Gastlum is anticipating a fully fit and committed Vitor Belfort on Saturday.
“I prepared for the best Vitor,” Gastelum said.
“I know he’s coming off two losses. I know nobody wants to lose three times in a row, so he’s kind of got his back up against the wall in this fight.
“I feel like whenever somebody has their back up against the wall, that’s when they react the hardest and react the quickest, so I expect the best version of Vitor on Saturday.”
This will be the TUF17 winner’s first real crack at stepping up in weight.
Gastelum is throwing is hat into the 185-pound ring, where he is currently ranked 15th. The 25-year-old said he has no issues going in against a guy he has a lot of ‘respect’ for, and potentially ending his career.
“For sure, this is a big deal for me,” Gastelum said.
“It’s a big deal to fight a guy like Vitor. I know how much of a big deal he is, and I give him the respect that he deserves, but once that cage door closes, that respect is gone for 25 minutes.
“I’m very confident in my abilities to strike with him, too. So for sure I’m looking to get a knockout, but also I’m not going to be dumb to where I’m going to play just his game. We’re going to do MMA. This is MMA, so we’ll do MMA.”
Belfort and Gastelum headlines UFC Fight Night 106 and we are in for fireworks if the fight lives up to expectations.
This fight may be Belfort’s swansong in the UFC, win, lose or draw.
Conversely Gastelum has his whole career ahead of him, but a win here could potentially elevate him into the upper echelons of the 185-pound division.
Aggression and work rate are the hallmarks of Gastelum’s game. The 25-year-old Arizona native loves to get in his opponent’s face from the get-go.
He may be just weeks shy of his 40th birthday, but Belfort still possesses great quickness inside the octagon, but will age catch up with the man who has lost his last two consecutive fights.
For us, this is Kevin Gastelum’s fight to lose. He possesses all the tools needed to defeat Belfort and has age on his side.
We are expecting The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner to make a statement in the 186-pound division.