UFC 171 Fight Breakdown: Kelvin Gastelum (-185) vs. Rick Story (+160)

FX_TUF_S3_FightersInfo_0010_Kelvin-Gastelum_display_image The main event of the UFC 171 prelims is a three-round welterweight bout between The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum and Rick “The Horror” Story. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Gastelum as a -185 favorite (bet $185 to win $100) while Story is a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Gastelum at -150 and Story at +110, meaning the action has come in on the favorite Gastelum. I agree with the early money on Gastelum as I am also picking him to win this fight. Here’s why. Gastelum (7-0) won TUF season 17 as an underdog and at just 22 years of age is one of the top prospects in the sport. He possesses an incredibly well-rounded skillset and seems to be improving at a rapid clip. So far in the UFC he’s 2-0 with a split decision win over Uriah Hall that earned him The Ultimate Fighter crown as a middleweight and a submission victory over Brian Melancon in his welterweight debut at UFC Fight Night 27. He was set to take on Court McGee at UFC on FOX 9, but an injury forced him out and he wasn’t able to return until now against Story. The time off may have did wonders for Gastelum as he was very active last year and his body probably needed a break. So I’m expecting the best Gastelum we’ve ever seen to show up this weekend against Story, and that’s a scary proposition to the rest of the UFC welterweight division as Gastelum is quickly becoming one of the most well-rounded fighters in the weight class and a win over Story will no doubt put him on the fast track towards the top of the division. Story (16-7) is only 29 years old, but he’s one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC welterweight division. “Horror” holds a record of 9-5 overall in the promotion which includes wins over Johny Hendricks, Thiago Alves, and Brian Ebersole, and he also has an early career victory over Jake Ellenberger. Story is a well-rounded fighter with solid wrestling as well as very solid striking. He also has a great chin and has proven time and time again he can go three strong rounds. In the last few years he has been inconsistent as he’s lost four of his last seven bouts, but keep in mind the level of competition and his record doesn’t look so bad. At this point, Story is more of a gatekeeper in the division rather than a title contender, but if he starts racking up a few wins in a row the UFC will have to give him another top opponent. And that starts with him taking out the emerging contender Gastelum this weekend at UFC 171 in what could be a “Fight of the Night” candidate. This should be a very good fight between two excellent welterweight fighters. I have a feeling it’s going to stay on the feet for the majority of the time, and while I don’t see Gastelum knocking Story out, I do think he will be the faster of the two fighters and I think he will beat him to the punch and his volume and precision striking is going to win him a decision on the judges’ scorecards. At -185, I can’t recommend a bet on Gastelum because I think the fight is closer than the odds indicate. That being said, if you got him yesterday when the lines were moving at a Pick ’em price of anywhere between -115 and -135, then I say you did a good job. Still, I do expect Gastelum to win so unless Story breaks the +250 plane I wouldn’t think to touch him. The one prop I do like for this fight is the fight going the three-round distance, so when that is released take a look at it and if it’s around -180 or so, it might be worth a play.

Written by Adam Martin.

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