By Christopher Reive in Atlanta

When Kelvin Gastelum heard there was an opening to fight for the UFC interim middleweight title on April 13, one thought immediately popped into his head: "That's my day."

Gastelum burst onto the scene on April 13, 2013 when he won season 17 of the Ultimate Fighter after being the last pick of the draft. Six years on, he has a shot at claiming UFC gold in Atlanta on Sunday – with Kiwi star Israel Adesanya standing in his way.

It's been a theme of Gastelum's career that people have been quick to dismiss him. He's carried that chip on his shoulder throughout his UFC career, winning nine of his 13 bouts since earning a contract with the promotion as a result of winning the Ultimate Fighter.


"It's a day that changed my life forever and every year I make it a point to point that out. It's a special day for me," Gastelum said.

"[Now] it's kind of the same situation where there's this guy who's supposed to be the next best thing. I've been in the organisation for six years and I've seen those kinds of guys come and go, but here we are.

"People are riding his hype train. Everybody's writing me off and once again I plan to spoil the party."

Kelvin Gastelum knocked out former middleweight champion Michael Bisping in 2017. Photo / Getty Images
Kelvin Gastelum knocked out former middleweight champion Michael Bisping in 2017. Photo / Getty Images

It hasn't been the easiest ride into this weekend's bout in Atlanta for the 27-year-old however. Scheduled to fight for the title against Robert Whittaker in Melbourne in February, the bout was abandoned just hours before it was set to take place as Whittaker was forced to withdraw due to health concerns.

As a result, Gastelum has done back to back training camps without a fight in between to break them up.

"It hasn't been as smooth as I would have hoped and liked it to be, but here we are. I got over those little humps that were in the way after that and I'm 1000 per cent ready for this fight."

Who is Kelvin Gastelum?

• Made his mixed martial arts debut in 2010 with a knockout victory
• Southpaw stance (right hand and right foot forward)
• Winner of the Ultimate Fighter season 17
• 15-3 (1 no contest) professional MMA record
• 6 wins by knockout, 4 by submission and 5 by decision
• Won his last two bouts (Michael Bisping by knockout; Ronaldo Souza by decision)
• Black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu