With Paulo Costa out of UFC’s April 17th event due to illness, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was without an opponent. While the UFC scrambled for a replacement opponent, Whittaker’s team sought a title fight rematch against current champion Israel Adesanya.
However, it is Kelvin Gastelum who has stepped up to the plate.
Whittaker vs. Gastelum was once booked for UFC 234 back in 2019, but was derailed after Whittaker (who was then champion) withdrew due to a hernia.
After losing a five round war against Israel Adesanya for the interim title, Gastelum lost two more fights – a split decision to Darren Till and a first round submission loss to Jack Hermansson. But he managed to snap his three fight losing skid with a unanimous decision victory over Ian Heinisch.
Whittaker, meanwhile, has won two straight fights since losing his belt to Adesanya in 2019. The two meet in what some assume could determine the #1 middleweight contender.