Kelvin Gastelum is ready to return to the UFC middleweight division. The top-15 ranked welterweight of Mexican descent, who was forced to move back up to 185lbs by UFC president Dana White following an unsuccessful weight cut against Tyron Woodley at UFC 183, will make his return to the weight class he won TUF 17 on when he meets Nate Marquardt at UFC 188, which takes place June 13 at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico. This fight between Gastelum and Marquardt takes place on the evening’s main pay-per-view card. Even with the move back up to middleweight, I still consider Gastelum a near-elite mixed martial artist and someone who could very well challenge for the title again at 170lbs after he proves he can make weight at 185lbs first. I don’t know what exactly the issues were with Gastelum that made him miss weight horribly at UFC 183, but I do think this guy is supremely talented and at only 23 years of age he still has loads of potential. I know some people are sour on Gastelum these days, and it’s understandable considering his weight cutting issues and also his lackluster performances in fights with Rick Story and Woodley, but this guy is young, hungry to win, and with the right motivation and with the right nutritionist he could be a champion one day — just as long as he can make weight. And the UFC is doing him a huge favor by matching him up with Marquardt, who is a shell of his former self. Marquardt, who previously competed at welterweight, is a smaller middleweight anyways, so even though Gastelum will be meeting at middleweight I almost consider this a welterweight fight, but just without either guy cutting weight. The lack of a weight cut should help both guys perform a bit better than they have as of late, but still, this is a tough test for an aging Marquardt against a young buck Gastelum, and it’s not a test he expects to pass. In regards to a betting line for this fight, I really feel like Gastelum should be a big favorite here at around -300. I just think we saw that Marquardt isn’t the same fighter he used to be in his last outing against Brad Tavares, a fight which he lost via unanimous decision, and I think Gastelum is going to smash him, even at 185lbs. I could see the odds being a bit “off” on Gastelum just because people might fear the weight cut, but I really feel like he has a great chance of winning this contest and I truly believe that if a line on his is available for less than -300 it would hold solid betting value. But we’ll see which way the odds go this June.