UFC 224 features a classic striker vs grappler co-main event as #5 ranked middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum takes on #2 ranked Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.
Gastelum will be entering enemy territory in front of a hostile Brazilian crowd. Gastelum however feels fairly confident and it’s just another day in the office for the Ultimate Fighter winner.
“Jumping into the lion’s den, right in his backyard. Been in this position many times already where I’m not gonna be the favorite of the crowd,” said the Huntington Beach resident by way of Yuma, Ariz. “I’ve been in this position. I feel good. I prepared well for this fight, trained well for this fight, and I’m confident in my abilities for this fight.”
This particular attitude of Gastelum has earned praise from former UFC Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Gastelum is not unfamiliar with Cruz as he has trained at the Alliance MMA facility in Chula Vista which also serves as a training ground for Cruz.
“He has this gift of relaxing all the way up to the fight, and then on fight night he just shows up,” said Cruz, who will be a UFC 224 analyst on the Fox Sports desk Saturday for the FX prefight (4 p.m.) and prelims (5 p.m.), as well as the postfight show at 10 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
“He shows up better than most people do, not just on fight nights but in practice, all month, all year. He’s just a gamer. That’s what impresses me most about Gastelum. When it comes down to it, it’s just time and he gets it done.”
Cruz concluded explaining Gastelum’s state of mind before entering the octagon.
“I don’t think being in Brazil or anything is gonna affect him … especially at 185,” Cruz said. “He comes in healthy. He comes in strong. He’s not depleted from cutting. I think we’re gonna see a very sharp Kelvin.
“But to go into Brazil and beat Jacare? Think of it … it’s gonna be a madhouse.”
Gastelum put up a stellar performance to beat Jacare Souza via split decision.