Kelvin Gastelum Admits Fighting Michael Bisping Much Bigger Than Facing Anderson Silva

Kelvin Gastelum knows a win over Bisping could put him very close to title contention at 185 pounds

It was only a few months ago that Kelvin Gastelum was ready to return to welterweight after spending a few fights competing at 185 pounds.

That all changed when the UFC came calling with an offer for Gastelum to face former middleweight king Anderson Silva in the first ever main event for a UFC card in mainland China. Gastelum quickly accepted and his stay at middleweight was extended.

It seemed disaster struck just a few weeks ago when Silva was pulled from the card after being flagged for a potential doping violation by USADA and Gastelum was left without an opponent with very few options available for a replacement.

No one — including Gastelum — expected Michael Bisping to call the UFC and request the fight just a week after losing his middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre. Bisping wanted the chance to wash the bad taste of a defeat out of his mouth and there was no better opportunity available than facing another top 10 fighter like Gastelum.

Of course, Gastelum was thankful that he was still going to be able to fight and his main event status wasn’t in jeopardy. As it turns out, Gastelum was not only relieved that he got a replacement opponent but in his mind facing Bisping is a much bigger fight than taking on the longest reigning middleweight champion in UFC history in Silva.

“Definitely, I feel like this is a much, much bigger fight than the Anderson fight would’ve been,” Gastelum said ahead of his fight with Bisping this weekend. “So yes, I feel like this fight is a lot [bigger than the] previous opponent.”

Another added benefit to face Bisping this weekend was Gastelum’s chance to jump right back in the title hunt after suffering his first loss at middleweight to former champion Chris Weidman this summer.

The defeat to Weidman actually precipitated Gastelum’s decision to explore a move back down to 170 pounds but beating Bisping on Saturday might convince the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner that his future really does belong in the middleweight division.

That doesn’t mean Gastelum would never return to welterweight but those plans might just be put on hold for the time being.

“I feel like if I win this fight then I might have tarnished those plans and I might’ve just permanently put myself in the position where I’ll be fighting for the middleweight title,” Gastelum said.

“If I get to fight for the middleweight title, then that’s ideal but I also feel like if I do the right things and I’m able to make the 170 [pound limit] safely and healthy, then I can do it and I want to fight for that title too.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.