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Many people were so quick to jump on the Cannonier train after a few good showings that he assembled. David Branch was not the greatest feather in the cap. Additionally, Anderson Silva is far past his prime of greatness. That would leave us with an impressive win against Jack Hermanson.
However, coming into the fight against Robert Whittaker, the MMA masses take the win streak and the blip in the radar that Whittaker brought in with him and use MMA math to be sold on Cannonier. I am not saying that Cannonier wasn’t impressive during his three-fight win streak, but to pick him over someone like Whittaker — whose only loss since 2014 was Izzy Adesanya — was about as ludicrous as it gets.
You need to let the chips fall a little more before you pull your hand on an excellent fighter. It seems that there is a clear pattern with people doing that these days, and it is basically in the hopes they can make something stick. It may work a few times, but if you use MMA math, you will lose the majority of the time.
Cannonier is a good fighter and a dedicated one at that. The guy was a heavyweight at one time and worked his way down to middleweight. There is no doubt that this guy is a very hard worker in the gym with a lot of power and a skill set to match, but is he on the level where everyone put him just a short time ago? With a record of 13-5, Cannonier has nine knockouts (KOs) and two submissions.
He has only been finished two times by way of KO in his career. Before his three-fight win streak, Cannonier was beating the people he should beat and losing to the guys that he needed to beat to really propel him up a notch. However, that three-fight win streak made people believers, and they completely bought into the narrative. I am not discrediting him; I just knew he wasn’t as good as people were slating him out to be after three wins in a row.
Will you have the same confidence in him now that he’s coming off a loss? Or will you sit back on the MMA math again? Let’s go by facts here. First, he is not facing Robert Whittaker. The man he is fighting is solid, but he isn’t Whittaker.
Kelvin Gastelum is an outstanding fighter that has lost some steam for numerous reasons. Some would say that he is not very disciplined and that he isn’t fully committed. I think your surroundings are everything, and now that he has found a home at KingsMMA, I believe he has made a shift in his mindset. I get that he is still losing, but he is losing to the top of the heap, and he is fighting tooth and nail until the end. Whittaker, Izzy, Chris Weidman, Darren Till, Jack Hermanson, and the list goes on.
It hasn’t been easy for Gastelum, but to say that the kid isn’t good would be foolish.
With a record of 17-7, Kelvin has a very calming approach to his game. Granted, sometimes I think it’s a little too laid back. His facial expressions make me think he is trying to prove to his friends that he isn’t afraid to walk through the funhouse at the local county fair.
However, when he gets triggered, he will let his hands go with very good sting and power. He is also known to have a good chin, but it has shown some stress fractures in that department as of late, but overall extremely durable. With six KOs and four submissions to his credit, Gastelum has never been knocked out and only finished twice by way of submission. Just because he hasn’t been KO’d does not mean he has not been put on skates because he absolutely has been.
However, to say Gastelum can take a beating is a pure understatement. He will be at a reach and size disadvantage here, but that is usually expected ever since he left welterweight to play in the sandbox at middleweights. What makes him dangerous in this division is that he still carries strong enough power against the middleweights, but the small edges that the polished middleweights have are a bit more magnified.
That said, Kelvin has made a career finding his way inside. To think that Cannonier is a polished striker that will be able to keep Gastelum from moving in for five rounds is a little hard to believe. I think he will do fine getting in on Cannonier, but being effective is different.
I have seen a slight decline in Gastelum ever since the fight with Izzy. That fight was brutal and really took a lot from him from many different aspects. Although, the X factor for me in this fight is Gastelum’s durability and cardio. I believe that Cannonier will lead the dance early, but as the fight goes on, Cannonier won’t get stronger, and he may slow down a bit. I think this is where and when Gastelum will start to take over.
The Pick: Gastelum
- Cannonier: $8,700
- 100+ Points: 2 of 10
- Current Market Value: 4 of 10
- Hedge: 3
When you look at Cannonier, you can’t ignore his power, and you can’t ignore his dedication to his fitness and conditioning index. However, you also can’t ignore the task at hand against Gastelum and the fact he has only seen the fifth round one time in the Alaskan Regional Circuit. He has the skill and power to finish anyone on the feet, but Gastelum doesn’t have just anyone’s chin.
- Gastelum $7,500
- 100+ Points: 1 of 10
- Current Market Value: 3 of 10
- Hedge: 5
I think Gastelum’s jump up in weight has shown a bit of a fracture in his durability. I have seen him rocked a few more times than normal in some of his fights. Gastelum will be undersized here, but he has made a career on fighting to the beat of his own drum. He is patient, composed, and he will engage when he feels like the time is right. If he can weather the early storm of Cannonier, the better skill set that he posses may carry him to get this one done down the stretch.
In my opinion, Gastelum’s wrestling will win this fight if he decides to implore it.
Vegas: Gastelum +130
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Getty Images
Pictured: Jared Cannonier, Kelvin Gastelum, Dana White