What is your opinion on this week’s news that Anderson Silva will face Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 212 on June 3? What fights for each fighters would you have rather seen if not for this one?
BRYAN KERN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Anderson Silva (34-8-1) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (14-2): This is the fight to make. Silva taking the Derek Brunson (16-5) fight proved he’s merely sticking around for the money and for fights that make sense. It also shows he is very aware of where he stands in the division. For Gastelum, it’s going to be another fight where a victory will see him take a big leap forward and a loss would result, in a tiny step back. He’s clearly shown to be rapidly improving his game, and 185 looks to be where he’s going to see the most consistent success. He can easily catch Silva and add to his ever-growing list of victims. It also doesn’t give him a fight thats too big to soon like a Jacare Souza (24-4-1) or a Yoel Romero (13-1). Silva getting a win sets him up to face Georges St. Pierre (25-2) regardless of the outcome of the Bisping fight. A loss sees him taking on a middle of the pack middleweight. It’s a win-win for all involved in my opinion.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
This is a pretty big fight, but it makes little sense for Silva unless he has a completely warped perspective on what he can and can’t do in the cage anymore. Silva has been going downhill for a while now and Gastelum has never looked better than he did when he beat Vitor Belfort. Gastelum looks so good at middleweight that he needs to be barred from even thinking about going back to welterweight. He looks strong and quick, not drained from a huge weight cut. This fight makes absolute sense for Gastelum, as a win here adds a big name to his resume. Silva should be fighting guys near the bottom of the top 10 or top 15, not guys looking to make a title run. It’s not about his legacy, as that’s largely set already, it’s about fights he can win. It’s about being realistic.
MIKE HISCOE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
We’ve discussed recently in the MMATorch.com Daily News Digest the two schools of thought on booking Anderson Silva moving forward. The first is what they’ve been doing with him this year, which is booking him against younger, rising fighters to try to give their careers a boost should they win. The second is what Silva seemed to be leaning towards, which is big fights against name fighters closer to his age. I was also leaning towards the latter, but I see what UFC is doing here by booking him with Kelvin Gastelum.
In making this fight, it tells me that UFC is serious about making a star out of Gastelum and that they aren’t too concerned about protecting Silva. Gastelum is tailor made to beat Silva and will borrow from the playbook of every UFC fighter to defeat Silva. Just like Chris Weidman and Daniel Cormier used their wrestling to neutralize Silva’s striking and smother him to the point of near exhaustion, Gastelum will likely utilize a similar game plan. Gastelum is a relentless wrestler with a good gas tank (especially without the huge weight cut), but is also dangerous in the standup game as Tim Kennedy and Vitor Belfort both recently found out.
Gastelum also has star potential beyond what he is capable of in the cage. Gastelum is fluent in Spanish and was used as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” in the past. UFC has long been looking for a Mexican star, and with Cain Velasquez on the shelf all too often, and Yair Rodriguez still a work in progress, UFC may see Gastelum as the closest thing to a Mexican star they can get right now. A win over Silva in June would line up perfectly for another big fight for Gastelum later in the year when UFC typically runs a show in Mexico.
MICHAEL ECOCHARD, MMATORCH CONTRIUBTOR
There really might not be a more dangerous fight for Anderson Silva. The style of Kelvin Gastelum is what is known to beat Silva – really strong wrestling, powerful hands, and a sturdy chin. The fight should be interesting, though, and you can never quite write Silva off in a fight. If Anderson Silva can keep the bout at distance, he could use his counter striking and range to pick apart Gastelum, but it is far more likely that Gastelum moves in and tags Silva early and often. Gastelum should’ve waited and taken a fight with the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Gegard Mousasi instead. Anderson Silva would’ve been lucky to get the rematch with Vitor Belfort again as that fight seems far more winnable than this one does.
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