Kelvin Gastelum impressed at UFC 206 tonight as he survived early grappling pressure from Tim Kennedy and then turned the screw, picking the military veteran apart with superior striking and better cardio, leading to a third round TKO stoppage.
Early body kick for Kennedy and then one to the leg. Another kick for Kennedy. Gastelum has the center of the Octagon and almost catches a body kick from his opponent.
Now Kennedy lands a right hand and works his way into the clinch against the cage. He drags Gastelum to the mat. Gastelum able to get back up and Kennedy feeds him a few hard knees to the legs.
Kennedy able to manhandle Gastelum back to the mat and now has his back. Good start for him with only a couple of minutes gone. Gastelum able to stand, but Kennedy immediately walks him back to the cage while still bodylocked to his back. A few more knees land.
Kennedy actually kneeing Gastelum to the ass here repeatedly. Finally Gastelum manages to spin out and get some space.
Gastelum with a nice left hand. Kennedy clinching again, but they break apart. Punches for Gastelum and then a left hand for Kennedy.
Kennedy again tries to clinch and it doesn’t work out. Gastelum with punches and Kennedy into the clinch again.
This time when they break apart Kennedy has a noticeable mouse under his right eye. Gastelum looking the better of the two on the feet here and towards the end of the round he lands a hard shot that slightly buckles Kennedy legs for moment. Kennedy hits reverse gear to escape the incoming offense and is relieved when the round comes to an end.
Hard body kick from Gastelum. He’s looking to work strikes, but Kennedy has other ideas and drives him over to the cage looking for a potential takedown.
However, this time Gastelum is able to spin and take Kennedy’s back. Kennedy on his knees now and landing a couple of punches behind him.
Gastelum looking to work soemthing on the mat, but Kennedy spins back up and drives him into the cage. Kennedy has Gastelum’s back and lands a knee.
Gastelum gets free and lands a few punches. Kennedy throws a punch in return. Winging strike from Kennedy misses. Body kick for Kennedy.
Right hand gets through for Gastelum. Body kick for him. Now Gastelum lands to the body. Couple of side kicks from Kennedy.
Uppercut for Gastelum, but then Kennedy drags his opponent to the mat. Gastelum able to reverse the position though. Not long before Kennedy manages to get back up, but so far he’s been coming off second best at striking range.
Kennedy wades forward with slow, winging shots as he tries to work back into the cage. They trade at close range and Gastelum lands a solid right hook.
Kennedy lethargic out there and gets caught with another big shot. Another jab and a one-two. Kennedy has been out of the cage for a couple of years and it’s showing at this stage in a hard-fought fight with a younger opponent.
Two-piece combo for Gastelum lands and he drags Kennedy to the mat. Kennedy gets back up and is greeted by more rapid-fire punches and a head kick attempt from Gastelum.
Big punch lands for Gastelum and Kennedy reels away looking hurt. Gastelum with more accurate strikes and Kennedy is just having to gut it out at this stage with his face increasingly covered in blood.
Kennedy wades forward with punches and a couple do land, but these are telegraphed shots. Gastelum with the jab. Kennedy tries a spinning kick.
Big body kick for Gastelum. Kennedy moves into the clinch, eating a right hand as he does. He shoves Gastelum across the cage, but the former TUF winner breaks free.
Gastelum still looks fresh out there and he goes back on the attack, landing clean strikes, with a final one-two sending Kennedy to the mat.
Kennedy is as tough as they come, but it’s clear that he’s had enough as he covers up on his knees and the referee quickly moves in to put him out of his misery, handing Gastelum an impressive TKO victory with 2.45mins of the third round gone.
That’s a big win for Gastelum and it couldn’t have come at a better time after all his weight-cutting issues. This proves he can match up well even at middleweight, though Kennedy looked rusty out there after such a long layoff, and at 37 years-old you have to wonder if he’ll now be contemplating retirement.