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Gastelum doesn't want to be a 'mediocre middleweight', wants to win title at 170 lbs

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UFC contender Kelvin Gastelum discusses his plans to return to the welterweight division in pursuit of the 170 lbs. title.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Since winning The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in 2013, budding prospect Kelvin Gastelum has surged through the UFC fighter rankings and has his crosshairs locked on the welterweight title. Gastelum's ascension to the top hasn't been without difficulty, however, as the 23-year-old has battled with weight-cutting complications since dropping down to the 170 lbs. fold after defeating Uriah Hall at the TUF 17 finale.

After weighing in nine pounds over the 170 lbs limit when he fought Tyron Woodley at UFC 183, UFC president Dana White demanded Gastelum to move up to middleweight. The Arizona native discussed his future ambitions with MMAJunkie yesterday:

"I think I can either be a mediocre middleweight, or I can be the welterweight champion," Gastelum said. "And I want to be the welterweight champion".

"I plan on going back (to welterweight) and getting in the boss' good graces after this Saturday night," he said. "Honestly, I don't think I can beat (champ Chris) Weidman, or (Luke) Rockhold or (Ronald) ‘Jacare' (Souza). Those guys are beasts.

"I think my skill level matches up pretty well with all of them. But I'm at a height disadvantage, a reach disadvantage, and a strength disadvantage."

Kelvin Gastelum will have to conquer UFC veteran Nate Marquardt at UFC 188 before he gets permission from boss Dana White to pursue his title shot aspirations at 170 lbs. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all coverage on UFC 188.