MMA Odds and Ends for Wednesday: Gastelum vs. Woodley Set As UFC 183 Co-Main

UFC-156 Kelvin Gastelum has been booked for the biggest test of his career — now let’s see how he handles it. The TUF 17 winner and one of the hottest welterweights in the division will make a quick turnaround when he takes on top-ranked Tyron Woodley in the co-main event of UFC 183, which takes place January 31 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event of the card is a five-round middleweight bout between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. Gastelum, the youngest winner in Ultimate Fighter history, is only 23 years of age and yet he’s already 5-0 in the UFC and ranked in the top 10 of the welterweight division. He recently submitted top-ranked Jake Ellenberger in the first round with a rear-naked choke in what was the biggest win of his career to date, but having took absolutely no damage whatsoever in the fight, he’s ready to make a quick return to the Octagon when he takes on Woodley, one of the top 170lbers in the sport. Woodley was inches away from getting a title shot, but for whatever reason he just froze when he fought Rory MacDonald at UFC 180 and blew his opportunity to be the next guy in line for a crack at the belt. However, he rebounded from that loss to MacDonald with an emphatic first-round knockout win over Dong Hyun Kim over the summer, a victory that put him right back in line with the other top contenders in the division. The UFC wanted Woodley to take on fellow American Top Team welterweight Hector Lombard, but Woodley refused, citing the fact the two have trained together in the past, although Lombard was actually willing to take the fight. Regardless, the UFC couldn’t get Woodley to bite on the matchup, and he instead waited around for another opponent. And he ended up getting Gastelum. I think Woodley vs. Gastelum is a very difficult fight to call. There’s no doubt Woodley is super explosive, has big-time knockout power and solid wrestling, but he also can fight very tentative at times, his cardio is questionable, and thus far he has always failed in “the big fight.” As for Gastelum, he shows marked improvements every time out, and with his combination of knockout power, submission ability, wrestling, cardio and a great chin, he’s going to be very hard to beat, not just for Woodley but for any welterweight on the planet. This is a really close fight to call. I lean towards Gastelum ever-so-slighty because I think he has more tools to win, but if Woodley can pull it off it won’t surprise me at all. It’s a great fight, and it makes UFC 183 that much stronger.

Written by Adam Martin.

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