UFC fighter Kelvin Gastelum itching to settle a score with his rival
American fighter Gastelum, in town to promote UFC Fight Night Singapore, eyes revenge over Kiwi warrior Adesanya
The last time middleweight fighter Kelvin Gastelum was in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) octagon, fans were treated to a bout for the ages between him and Israel Adesanya, the winner.
Now, cleared to train and compete after an 11-week layoff, the 27-year-old American is itching to settle a score with his Kiwi rival.
Back in that UFC 236 classic bout for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship in April, both warriors put on a showcase of skill, talent and sheer toughness.
Gastelum lost by unanimous decision after a back-and-forth encounter, but it earned him the Fight of the Night award.
In town to promote the return of UFC Fight Night Singapore, which will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Oct 26, Gastelum told The New Paper: "By the time the fight was over (with Adesanya), I was kind of glad it was over.
"The training that we go through is pretty intense, so I was ready for a break.
"I have been able to take some time off, take myself completely out of training, just to let my body heal. Also, I spent a lot of quality time with my family, so that was great.
"After the fight, I was beaten up pretty badly. I had a broken orbital bone and bad bruises all over the body that needed time to heal.
"I wanted to make sure I was 100 per cent before I get back to pounding on my body.
"(As for Adesanya), people would like to see that fight again and I love to compete, and I love to win.
"So now I am focusing on getting back in shape, so I can get the fight soon."
Gastelum (16-3) was cleared by doctors to resume full-time training at the end of June.
But he will have to play the waiting game again as he does not have a fight booked yet.
Meanwhile, Adesanya (17-0) will face Australian middleweight belt holder Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker (21-4) at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct 6.
No prizes for guessing which fighter will be getting the support of Gastelum, who also wants another title shot.
"Selfishly, yes, I am (rooting) for (Adesanya). And he has a real possibility of winning," said the third-ranked fighter in the official UFC middleweight rankings.
This is Gastelum's first visit to Singapore and, while it is not known if he will be on the card for October's UFC Fight Night, he is grateful for the opportunities afforded through the sport.
Gastelum forged a career in mixed martial arts after becoming the youngest winner - at 21 - on the UFC-produced reality television series, The Ultimate Fighter. The 2013 win earned him a UFC contract.
He said: "So it's really amazing where this sport has brought me and how big the sport is growing.
"This sport changed my life. It basically saved my life because I have no idea what else I would be doing.
"I'm here and I'm enjoying my life. I have a great life because of this sport. So it's cool to see the sport is growing (in Asia).
"As a fighter, it's great to see the sport having great exposure outside America."