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Kelvin Gastelum Discusses Joining the Cast of The Ultimate Fighter 17

January 28, 2013 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

MMAjunkie recently spoke with The Ultimate Fighter season 17 cast member Kelvin Gastelum. Here are some highlights:

Gastelum on why he believes he’s a fighter and how he was born with meningitis: “I’m a fighter. I’ve been fighting forever, since I was a little kid. I was born with meningitis in my brain. I was in the hospital for weeks, my mom said. I was fighting for my life. Doctors didn’t know what to do. I guess the majority of the babies that are born with it, they die.”

Gastelum on his troubles in his youth and how getting into wrestling helped him: “When I was young, I grew up on the bad side of the neighborhood. I almost got into a gang and stuff like that, so wrestling was what got me off of that. I was going to go try out for the basketball team, but I didn’t make it. I wasn’t good enough, so my family was like, ‘You should try wrestling.’ Wrestling? I didn’t even know that existed. That was in middle school. I went to wrestling practice, and it was the hardest practice I’ve ever had in my life. I just kept on coming back, and that’s how I got started.”

Gastelum on how he transitioned to jiu-jitsu from wrestling and how that later got him involved in MMA: “I got started around my sophomore year in high school. One of the guys I used to wrestle with at school, he was like, ‘Hey man, let’s do jiu-jitsu.’ I was like, ‘What’s that?’ He was like, ‘You’ve seen UFC, right?’ I rolled with him, and he tapped me out like 100 times…Some of the fighters needed help with their wrestling, so I started to go in there to help fighters with their wrestling. I just kept going, and slowly I got more involved with jiu-jitsu and more involved in boxing.”

Gastelum on his opportunity on TUF: “I look at it as probably the best opportunity of my life. Obviously it would affect me financially, but this is what I love to do. I love to fight. I work really hard. I’m not super-talented. I’m not strong. I’m not bigger than any of these guys. I just work hard and I grind.”

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Jeffrey Harris
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