Kelvin Gastelum will have to wait a little longer for his first fight of 2022, and he’s OK with that.
The former UFC middleweight interim title challenger withdrew from his return to the cage at UFC 273 on April 9 in Jacksonville, Fla. Gastelum (16-8 MMA, 11-8 UFC) was scheduled to meet short-notice replacement Dricus du Plessis, who was stepping in for Massourdine Imavov.
But Friday, the UFC announced Gastelum wouldn’t be competing on the pay-per-view event. It was a disappointing moment for Gastelum, but one he said he doesn’t regret.
“I wish this didn’t happen and unfortunately I had to withdraw from the fight,” Gastelum said on Twitter. “I was advised not to disclose the injury, and just know I am compromised and I can’t and won’t be heading into the fight compromised in the way that I am.
“I just have to say sorry to Dricus du Plessis. Sorry I had to pull out this way last minute. You were our last hope to stay on the card, and I was so thankful you accepted the fight, but I did receive an injury shortly after out bouts were signed. I was so happy to stay on the card. My team and I did so much work and we were proud of that work that we put over the last six months. … Sorry to my team, as well, the people over at Fight Ready. There’s so many people that put in so much effort for me to be able to perform. I was so ready.
“I felt like it was a restart in my career, a restart toward another title run. I really felt that way, but unfortunately that’s going to be postponed a little bit. Just know we were so ready, and I’m thankful to the fans that stuck by me. It’s going to be worth it. … I’m not done, far from it. Sorry to the fans. Sorry to my team. Sorry to Dricus. I’m going to get healed up, get ready for the next one, and go on another title run.”
— #OnAmission4Gold (@KelvinGastelum) April 2, 2022
Gastelum was looking to bounce back from his worst career run. “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner is 1-5 in his past six bouts and on a two-fight losing skid. He most recently competed at UFC on ESPN 29 in August 2021, an event he headlined against top contender Jared Cannonier. Gastelum lost that fight by unanimous decision.
Du Plessis (16-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was already scheduled to compete on the card against Anthony Hernandez, but he was removed from that matchup and elevated into the bout with Gastelum. Du Plessis is unbeaten in his young UFC career. He has finished his opponent in all of his victories.
Below is the line up for UFC 273:
- Champ Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung – for featherweight title
- Champ Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan – for bantamweight title
- Gilbert Burns vs. Khamzat Chimaev
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Tecia Torres
- Aleksei Oleinik vs. Jared Vanderaa
- Aspen Ladd vs. Raquel Pennington
- Ian Garry vs. Darian Weeks
- Josh Fremd vs. Anthony Hernandez
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Marcin Tybura
- Mickey Gall vs. Mike Malott
- Julio Arce vs. Daniel Santos
- Mark Madsen vs. Vinc Pichel
- Kay Hansen vs. Piera Rodriguez