Welterweight doing wonders for Kelvin Gastelum before UFC on ESPN 52: ‘I haven’t felt this great in years’

AUSTIN, Texas – It’s back to welterweight for Kelvin Gastleum, who plans to stay in the division he considers his own.

Take him at his word and Gastelum (18-8 MMA, 12-8 UFC) is thriving at the lighter of the two weight classes he’s bounced between in recent years. On Saturday, he faces Sean Brady (15-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 52 with the intention of reentering the 170-pound mix.

“I feel great, man. I haven’t felt this great in years,” Gastelum told MMA Junkie and other reporters Wednesday at a pre-fight news conference. “I haven’t been this skinny in years. I haven’t been this lean in years. I feel good. We put in a lot of work. Like I said, we’re on the other side of it. I feel good. … I have two abs. Even when I’m skinny, I only pop out two.”

Despite his middleweight title challenge, and at times difficult weight cuts, Gastelum held firm that welterweight is where he plans to pursue gold.

“This has always been my division,” Gastelum said. “I had success at middleweight, so I stayed there, stayed complacent. It didn’t work out for me in the end, so I had to get out of my comfort zone a little bit and dedicate to my diet a little more. This has always been my rightful weight class, man.

UFC on ESPN 52 takes place Saturday at Moody Center. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN+ and includes Gastelum vs. Brady.

Gastelum thinks Brady, who sits at No. 9 in the promotion’s official rankings, will be a perfect litmus test to show the matchmakers where he belongs in the division.

“This is a guy that I wanted to fight,” Gastelum said. “We chose somebody in the top 10. I said, ‘I want to fight Sean Brady.’ This is a tough guy, a guy in the top 10, a guy that people like to see fight, so I figured this would be a good first test back at 170.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 52.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie