11 Apr - 
Kelvin Gastelum admits to struggling mentally ahead of UFC 236, but he's over it now

ATLANTA – The struggle is real for Kelvin Gastelum ahead of Saturday’s UFC 236 interim title fight with Israel Adesanya, and it has to do with motivation.

Gastelum was supposed to fight middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 234 in February. After the bout was canceled on fight day because of Whittaker’s emergency surgery, the situation was altered at 185 pounds.

With Whittaker out until late summer, the UFC booked an interim title affair between Gastelum and Adesanya, which takes place at State Farm Arena and co-headlines UFC 236.

Not getting the fulfillment of fighting for the title after his first championship camp took a toll on Gastelum mentally.

“I was so devastated mentally, physically and everything else,” Gastelum told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Wednesday during UFC 236 open workouts. “I was just drained from everything that had happened. It was hard for me to get re-motivated. It was hard for me to kind of reset my mind, even though we have a very dangerous opponent in front of us. It was just hard for me to get re-motivated. It took a couple weeks for me to just kind of get in that zone.”

There were points in camp where Gastelum simply wasn’t into it, he said, but he managed to turn a corner. Just says away from the fight, he’s feeling prepared.

“I’m here, we’re doing it, we got over that hump, and I’m feeling 1,000 percent ready for this fight,” Gastelum said.

Although there were downsides to the Whittaker fight being scratched, there were advantages, as well. Gastelum said he feels like he’s already been through the title fight experience, just absent the fight itself.

With the struggles behind him, though, Gastelum is ready to claim the interim belt with a win over Adesanya and move on to a rescheduled pairing with Whittaker, which he hopes he won’t have to travel to Australia again for it to happen.

“I would like it to be in Vegas,” Gastelum said. “Or actually, a little curve ball: I’d actually kind of like it to be in Mexico or Brazil.”

For more on UFC 236, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.