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Gastelum says Robert Whittaker had to choose between him and Rockhold: He took the ‘easier fight’

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Kelvin Gastelum believes UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker is trying to avoid a fight with him.

UFC 206: Kennedy v Gastelum Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Kelvin Gastelum is not too happy about being denied a title shot after his stunning first-round KO win over Michael Bisping at UFC Shanghai last month.

After making short work of former UFC middleweight champion Bisping, Gastelum immediately called out current interim champ Robert Whittaker, who beat Yoel Romero to win the title at UFC 213.

Despite Gastelum’s efforts, the UFC has booked Whittaker against Luke Rockhold for the official 185-pound title at UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.

According to Gastelum, who was originally supposed to fight MMA legend Anderson Silva last month (Silva failed an out-of-competition drug test and has been suspended indefinitely), ‘The Reaper’ chose the easier fight against Luke Rockhold.

“I knew Luke Rockhold and I were both in the front-running for this fight,” Gastelum told Duane Finley of FloCombat in a recent interview. “I was then told Robert Whittaker wanted the tougher fight and he picked Rockhold. In my opinion that is the easier fight because I feel I’m the toughest fight for anyone in this division. I think Whittaker took the easier fight by going with Luke.”

The 26-year-old talent believes Whittaker is avoiding a fight with him because of their past sparring sessions.

“He’s [Whittaker is] absolutely worried about me and for good reason. He and I have trained together in the past and know what the other is all about. We know what the other brings to the table.”

Rockhold, 33, lost the MW title to Bisping last year but rebounded with a win over former WSOF multi-weight champ David Branch at UFC Fight Night 116.

Gastelum, though, doesn’t think Rockhold is deserving of a title shot due to his inactivity in the last two years. The Californian spent over one year on the sidelines after being knocked out by ‘The Count’ at UFC 199.

“The situation bothers me a little bit with him choosing to fight Rockhold over me. Luke has pretty much been out for two years then comes back and fights David Branch, who wasn’t even competing in the UFC a year ago. He beats Branch and gets the title shot so I don’t know what that says about [the UFC] but it’s not good.”

Despite being denied a title shot, No. 6 ranked middleweight contender Gastelum is still in good spirits and is happy to keep accumulating highlight reel finishes.

“It feels good to stack up these highlight reels,” he laughed. “Before every fight, they put together these highlight reels and I just keep adding to it. I’ll get one and think it’s cool then I’ll get another one in the next fight. It’s just me proving to the world what I already know. I can knock out anyone in my division and probably submit anyone as well. I can do it all and I’m going to keep proving it.”

Gastelum was recently accused of turning down a fight with the top-ranked Yoel Romero by MMA manager Malki Kawa, but the Ultimate Fighter 17 winner has hinted of nothing of the sort.

UFC 221 features Whittaker vs. Rockhold as the headlining championship bout and takes place on February 11th at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia.