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UFC 188: Velasquez vs Werdum - Idiot's Guide Preview to Kelvin Gastelum vs Nate Marquardt

David Castillo breaks down the three things you need to know about Gastelum vs. Marquardt at middleweight in Mexico, and everything you don't about how to be a true detective.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Match Up

Middleweight Kelvin Gastelum 10-1 vs. Nate Marquardt 33-14-2

The Odds

Middleweight Kelvin Gastelum -500 vs. Nate Marquardt +400

3 Things You Should Know

1. Gastelum is the pleasant surprise MMA curmudgeons told you about.

Even though Gastelum is coming off a loss, he got beat by Tyron Woodley. There's no shame in that given his brief tenure in MMA. In addition, though he looks like a man who has traveled to carcosa and back, he's actually only 23. Not only is that amazing, it's actually kind of biologically inexplicable. And also not good news for Kelvin's opponents.

Unfortunately for Gastelum, he missed weight twice in the UFC, and now Dana has ordered a royal decree that says he's no longer allowed to fight at WW. It's tough to predict how Gastelum's game will translate at 185 where his raw strength played a role in his success.

2. Unfortunately for Nate, his nickname is now a punchline, but his skills aren't.

Nate is now 1-4 in his last five, losing to Hector Lombard, Jake Ellenberger, Tarec Saffiedine, and Brad Tavares. It's not a bad list to lose to, but it's not just who he lost to, but how he lost. Marquardt will always be a dynamic fighter. In fact, his speed, strength, and overall arsenal hasn't deteriorated with age and experience. But the competition won't get any easier, and fighting Gastelum feels like yet another matchup his current body is no longer prepared for.

3. You should be very tempted to bet on Nate, but even a prime Nate would have had trouble with Gastelum.

Marquardt will always have a soft, violent space in my heart for the fight memories. Whether rolling Demian Maia like a poblano tamale, or his famous video game combination on Wilson Gouveia, he's done a lot for the lasting images of the MMA world. But he's also a guy who is good at maintaining the illusion of versatility.

As in, his speed and quickness always allowed him to keep his arsenal limited. This, more than anything, is why he's been defeated so much despite not really withering physically; the variety in his game is being exposed. Without real combination punching (he throws punches like a left hook is illegal), range striking, or a submission game that doesn't rely solely on a well timed guillotine, perhaps was never really long for this octagon world, but it certainly seemed like it for a time.

Decline or not, that straight right he likes to lean in with and lead before jabbing is absolutely lethal. He's got crackerjack timing with that thing, and a fighter like Gastelum who still needs to work on defense will absolutely have to prepare for it. Kelvin pumps a crisp, very stiff jab at range. It's probably his best punch. But his strength compliments his speed when throwing in combination. I don't know that he can out maneuver Nate on the ground so easily, but he's crafty on the ground when looking for offense. Like a lot of good wrestlers who understand how it can bridge submission opportunities, he keeps his fists active.

This bout is way harder than the odds make it seem, nevermind what can be gleaned from their common opponent. Nate can land that straight right on the feet, and though his takedown defense will be a factor in defeat, he's competent enough to get opportunities within the first two rounds with strikes, as well as his guillotine. Still, Gastelum's continued improvement will pay dividends against the cagey veteran.


Kelvin Gastelum by TKO, round 3.