Bisping, Chiesa light up Kelvin Gastelum for ’empty promise’ at UFC on ABC 6: ‘Hold your head in shame’

There was little word mincing from a UFC Hall of Famer and perennial welterweight contender Saturday after UFC on ABC 6.

Kelvin Gastelum (19-9 MMA, 13-9 UFC) outworked Daniel Rodriguez (17-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) for a unanimous decision on the main card in Saudi Arabia. Gastelum was the betting favorite in the fight. But the bout contract was signed for welterweight. During fight week, Gastelum came in heavy – way heavy – and despite Rodriguez saying he offered a 180-pound catchweight, Gastelum apparently couldn’t hit that.

The fight settled in at middleweight, where Gastelum has spent much of his career after multiple welterweight attempts years back that resulted in weight misses, fight cancellations and plenty of drama. But in late 2023, he successfully moved back to 170 pounds, and the presumption heading into UFC on ABC 6 was that it was his new division.

His miss and request to fight a full 15 pounds up without alerting the UFC, or his opponent, until deep into fight week drew the ire of plenty, and after the event, UFC Hall of Famer and former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who was an analyst for the fight on the ABC broadcast, lit into Gastelum – who has a win over Bisping.

“(Rodriguez) was restricting in calories (during his camp),” Bisping said on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “He wasn’t taking on the carbohydrates so that you recover from a training session – you lose muscle and all the rest of it because he was taking it seriously. He wanted to weigh in at 170 pounds, whereas Gastelum clearly wasn’t doing that throughout the training camp. So therefore, you’re stronger, you’re more athletic, you recover from your training sessions quicker, and you come into the fight stronger and heavier.

“Both men had a tremendous fight. I thought Daniel Rodriguez should be proud of himself – really, really pushed Gastelum to the limit. Gastelum, even though he was heavy, still managed to keep a good pace for 15 minutes. The takedowns in Round 3 were kind of essential because Rodriguez was starting to find the mark on the cage. It was a great fight. It really was. Both men should be proud of themselves. But Kelvin Gastelum, regarding the weight situation, he should be ashamed of himself.”

Bisping was joined on the post-fight show by current UFC welterweight Michael Chiesa, who took aim at Gastelum, as well. He honed in on Gastelum’s post-fight interview in the cage with Daniel Cormier, in which when asked about the weight miss offered an apology to Dana White and the UFC, said he was trying to be a company man, and that it never would happen again.

But Chiesa seemed to imply Gastelum knew all along he wasn’t going to fight at welterweight.

“The pace that Kelvin Gastelum upheld through the course of the 15 minutes of that fight tells me you didn’t try to make weight, because if somebody really suffered trying to make weight and they miss, they’re not able to sustain that type of pace,” Chiesa said. “That tells me he didn’t try. And the fact that he really deflected Daniel Cormier’s question in the post-fight interview … He asked, ‘Hey, what was up with the weight miss?’ and Kelvin completely deflected from it and delivered once again – and I hate to be hard on the guy, but I have to; it’s part of my job – you delivered another empty promise that it won’t happen again.

“This has happened too many times with Kelvin Gastelum. He should not be allowed to sign a contract to fight at welterweight ever again.”

Gastelum won Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter” more than 11 years ago at middleweight. He dropped to welterweight for his next one, but after two fights at 170, he missed weight for the first time. A couple fights later, he missed by 10 pounds for a fight against Tyron Woodley. He was ordered up to middleweight, but returned to 170 one fight later.

It wasn’t long before he was back to scale issues, though, and at UFC 205, he didn’t even attempt to get on the scale for a fight with Donald Cerrone. At that time, White said he’d never fight at 170 in the UFC again.

And at middleweight, he stayed for years until a return to 170 in December – despite White saying that he’d never allow it – and a submission loss to Sean Brady. After the weight debacle in Saudi Arabia, White once again is offering up words of disappointment, but it remains to be seen in which division Gastelum will fight next.

“We’re talking about being a professional mixed martial artist,” Bisping said. “I always say there’s only two things you can control: That you show up on weight – that’s No. 1 – and that you’re in shape. If you don’t show up on weight, and if you’re tired after one round, go and find something else to do, because this ain’t for you, because you’re supposed to be one of the best professional mixed martial artists on the planet.

“You sign a contract – both of you do. They sell tickets on it based upon that. You might be fighting for a world championship. If you don’t show up on weight, 15 pounds over, hold your head in shame.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on abc 6.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie