Throwback to When Kelvin Gastelum Was Banned by the New York State Athletic Commission for 6 Months

Published 04/15/2021, 5:45 AM EDT

Over the years, Kelvin Gastelum has established himself as one of the top middleweights on the planet. However, MMA fanatics still remember the days he was a welterweight prospect. Despite proving himself as a top-notch talent of the 170lbs division, what fans remember most about his days at the 170lbs division is his struggle to make weight.


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Gastelum most notably served a six-month suspension from the New York State Athletic Commission in 2016. He was slated to fight Donald Cerrone at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden. But during fight week, he took to social media to announce that he won’t be able to make weight at the weigh-ins and pulled out from the bout.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 17: Kelvin Gastelum poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 17, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Cerrone made weight and earned his purse, but the NYSAC suspended Gastelum for failing to show up. It was the first UFC event in New York as mixed martial arts was banned in the state from 1997 to 2016. The ban was lifted earlier that year, and UFC 205 turned out to be the first-ever UFC event in the famous Madison Square Garden arena. Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez headlined the PPV.


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The NYSAC set a benchmark with their stance, as athletic commissions don’t usually suspend fighters. Rather, it’s the promotion that takes those steps. Gastelum was the subject of the unusual approach.

Kelvin Gastelum and his issues regarding making weight

UFC 205 was not the first time Gastelum failed to make the welterweight limit. Gastelum weighed in 10 pounds heavier than the 171 lbs mark for his fight against Tyron Woodley at UFC 183. He dropped to the division after winning The Ultimate Fighter season 17.

Following tough and unsuccessful weight cuts, he returned to middleweight against Nate Marquardt at UFC 188. The fighter looked impressive and UFC President Dana White vowed not to book Gastelum for a welterweight bout again.

He’s such a great fighter. I love how he goes in with a kid like Marquardt and stands right in the pocket with him and exchanges. His standup looked great tonight. But I don’t believe he can make 170. I honestly don’t believe he can make 170,” said White in the UFC 188 post-fight press conference.

He’s going to have to get serious and get a nutritionist. He had to cut to make 185, and he came in right on the nose, so I am the furthest from confident that he is capable of making 170, no matter how much I like him, or how much he says he can do it, I don’t believe him,” he added.

Kelvin Gastelum’s run in the middleweight division

Gastelum was not so keen to stay at the 185lbs division and promised to prove that he could make the 170 lbs limit again. But again, his missed weigh-in at UFC 205 proved that was not the case, and White was actually right all along. He vowed to never let Gastelum fight at welterweight.

Subsequently, Gastelum made his move up to 185 permanent and secured wins over the likes of Tim Kennedy, Michael Bisping, Ronaldo Souza. This set him up for a clash for the UFC gold against Robert Whittaker at UFC 234. Unfortunately, ‘The Reaper’ had to pull out last minute because of health issues.

Kelvin Gastelum’s recent skid and vengeance

Gastelum fought Israel Adesanya at UFC 236 for the interim belt. Despite his loss, he earned plaudits for his show of heart and toughness during the fight.

After his clash against ‘The Last Stylebender’, Gastelum went on a skid as he lost back-to-back bouts against Darren Till and Jack Hermansson. A decision against Ian Heinisch brought him back to winning ways, and he will look to win consecutive fights by beating Robert Whittaker this weekend.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 19: Jack Hermansson of Sweden celebrates after his submission victory over Kelvin Gastelum in their middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 19, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Over time, it has been proven that the decision to leave the welterweight division was probably the best for all parties involved. Gastelum’s reputation was getting jeopardized for consistently missing weight. The UFC too was facing problems because of the last-minute changes they were having to make.


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What did you make of Kelvin Gastelum’s issues of making weight in the welterweight division? How do you think he has fared at 185 as compared to 170?


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Apratim Banerjee

976 articles

Apratim Banerjee is an MMA author for EssentiallySports and has been writing professionally for almost a year. Before his current gig, Apratim worked as a UFC writer for Sportskeeda. A long-time MMA fan, Apratim has developed a critical eye for the sport that has helped him transfer his vast knowledge to his copies and give hardcore and casual readers a detailed insight into the fights and fighters.